Le Havre, World Heritage Site

Housing Block on Foch Avenue.

Taking concrete to heart

In Le Havre concrete is the major material used to rebuild the city. Up till then if it was already used for structure, it was often hidden, not being considered noble enough a material to be exposed. However Perret really considered it had a future while developing his concept of an order of reinforced concrete.

“Concrete acquired nobility in Le Havre, openly used in very elaborate ways, thus revealing the beauty at the heart of Structural Classicism”.

From the start, Perret suggests using reinforced concrete, a modern material he has made a point of promoting since the beginning of the twentieth century (apartment block Rue Franklin in Paris, 1903, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, 1913, Notre-Dame du Raincy Church, 1923). He wanted to expose the structure of the building, the way he would its inner being, its nature.

An option is taken for a resolutely modern city by using a promising material which holds very interesting technical and economical characteristics.

Concrete bush-hammered by hand, gravel mix concrete, straight from the formwork concrete, mass tinted concrete mixes, milled concretes and concrete claustras serve the reputation this material has among the professionals using it. They give the reconstructed city centre very rich colours and textures.

“My concrete is more beautiful than stone. I work it, refine it….. I make it something the beauty of which goes beyond that of the most precious coating material”. Auguste Perret