An Open Letter : The "Maison du Peuple of Clichy"/a landmark in danger

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An Open Letter from Docomomo France, April 18th 2018

Cultural heritage is made of architectural projects that attest to the past and give us examples for the future. The “Maison du peuple (The People’s House)”, designed between 1935 and 1938 in the Paris suburb of Clichy-la-Garenne, by the architects Marcel Lods and Eugène Beaudouin, engineer Vladimir Bodiansky and “constructeur” Jean Prouvé is one such masterpiece that we must protect for future generations.

The “Maison du peuple” is an exceptional example of metal construction in architecture, as witnessed in a wide range of academic literature. Its designers’ innovation and enthusiasm have led to the creation of a modular and forward-looking monument, open to all. In many ways, this building announces the Pompidou Center, a major cultural amenity whose competition jury was chaired by Prouvé. By fully landmarking this building in 1983, France highlighted the outstanding value of this historical monument and the ongoing necessity of its protection.

DOCOMOMO France, the French chapter of the International Committee for Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement, views with the utmost concern the extensionprojects for the “Maison du peuple” recently published in the press. Adding a high-rise toweron top of the “Maison du peuple” would radically compromise this historic monument’s integrity. It would also set a legal precedent that would weaken France’s longstanding andinternationally recognized heritage and monument legislation.

As architectural historians, architects, citizens and, above all, determined advocates of built cultural heritage, we want to warn public authorities and political leaders of the imminentthreat to the “Maison du peuple”. By signing this open letter, we seek to highlight the great cultural and heritage significance of this milestone in the history of architecture and the vital importance of preserving its architectural integrity.

Richard KLEIN, President of Docomomo France, Professor, École nationale supérieured’architecture et du paysage de Lille