Le Havre, World Heritage Site

Near the Main Tourist Information Office.

The structural module: 6, 24 m

Auguste Perret follows different concepts of modern architecture for the reconstruction. One of his tools is the dimension he imposes to constructions,   6, 24 metres.  This length marks the standardization applied to buildings and is a unique feature of the reconstructed city centre.

“Give the city cadence, like a musical harmony”. Auguste Perret

To meet the economic constraints of the time and make planning easier, the reconstruction of Le Havre is truly going to become a place of experiments in standardization and prefabrication applied to architecture. The whole area will rest on an invisible structural module: a module of 6,24 m bringing coherence to volumes among the buildings and allowing maximum standardization of architectural elements.

The exposed structure of buildings allows the structural module to be traced on the facades. According to his own theory of “Structural Classicism”, which can now be considered as avant-garde, Auguste Perret insists on dissociating the structure (supporting the building) from the in-filling panels (which close down volumes). They have separate roles and must be seen as such, with no decorating features attracting the eye away from the reality of the structure.

Beyond these markers of modernity, the buildings of Auguste Perret carry classical influence within the volumes created.

Different levels of the buildings follow a precise hierarchy: the base, development and the crown must be evenly spaced out to gain aesthetical balance throughout the buildings.

This shows through a regular vertical organization: ground floor and mezzanine for shops and stores, a full-length balcony running around the first floor, another two levels of lodgings, a second running balcony along the last level, and a recessed attic floor.

The use of a classical vocabulary borrowed from antique architecture must be underlined: column, capital, entablature, cornice are so many features belonging to the reconstructed facades. The terraced roof is systematically used on all buildings: initially considered as extra usable space and making up the fifth façade of the building.