Le Havre, World Heritage Site

Commerce Dock, Oscar Niemeyer's Cultural Centre and Saint-Joseph's Church, emblematic sites of the reconstructed city centre.

Building anew within the reconstructed city

As the first French city to belong, from 1995 onwards, to an officially protected zone (ZPPAUP) for its modern heritage, Le Havre is part of a resolutely contemporary architectural frame, which exists beyond the reconstruction period.

Contemporary architecture at Le Havre

The Muma: At anchor opposite the sea, this building erected by Guy Lagneau is a minimalist glass cube, borne by a discreet metallic structure and protected from light by a paralum made of aluminum blades designed by Jean Prouvé. The inside, a totally modular structure, housed the first Maison de la Culture, inaugurated by French Minister of Culture André Malraux in 1961. The building became an Art Museum in 1967.

Gillet’s footbridge: Spanning commerce Dock, and finished in 1969, It shows off its silhouette to the strollers and, together with the Volcano and Saint joseph’s in the background, creates the most well-known image of the city.

The Résidence de France

Built in 1969 on the site of the old Augustin Normand naval dockyards by Parisian architect Georges Candilis, with the help of local architect Jacques Lamy.

The Espace Oscar Niemeyer

Designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1972 and completed ten years later, the Volcano was a late last addition to the reconstruction of the city and shows an altogether different facet of the Modern Movement. The technique of reinforced concrete wall shells allows the creation of a three dimensional space where one can wander and enjoy the view over “light and sensual” shapes set in a forum down below, accessed by several ramps.

Over a larger perimeter, on the outskirts of the reconstructed city, well-known architects have placed interesting designs, meant to further the original project:

  • The Bains des Docks, (swimming complex) by Jean Nouvel
  • The Docks Vauban (Shopping and cinema complex) by Reichen
  • The Novotel (hotel) by Jean-Paul Viguier
  • The CCI (International Chamber of commerce) by Phine and René Dottelonde (who also designed the University Library).
  • Sciences Po (Political Sciences Institute) by Christian Hauvette
  • The Ecole Nationale supérieure Maritime (Naval Superior School) by the AIA Agency

AVAP (Agency for preservation and development of architecture and heritage)

French law, which demands turning the ZPPAUP (Protection Zone) into an AVAP, thus adds new issues pertaining to the perception and evolution of this exceptional territory.

The future AVAP leads to considering new issues on the one hand concerning the inclusion to the World Heritage List, on the other hand concerning the aims of the Grenelle 2 meaning:

  • Knowledge and preservation of architectural works directly relatedand following structural classicism, characteristic of the reconstruction of Le Havre as such and which offered architectural innovating continuity.
  • Taking into account the greater landscape and a better understanding of the components of the urban landscape, a theme Unesco is interested in.
  • Treatment of exterior spaces, in a city where empty and full volumes are indiosyncratic to the local landscape.
  • Taking into account the environment: biodiversity, density, land costs economy, using new energies and improving the buildings’shells. This new approach of local heritage lead us to reconsider the great principles of the reconstruction at a time of sustained growth and its issues.
  • As a complement, an added landscape study was made while the AVAP was being set up. It is a source of extra knowledge about how the city and its landscape are considered.
  • Join us in 2016 to follow the steps of the new AVAP.