SOME/ARCHITECTURE : SIÈGE DU PARTI COMMUNISTE / OSCAR NIEMEYER
Built between 1967-1972, The national HQ for the Parti Communiste Français by Oscar Niemeyer is characterized as a monument to what are now the vestiges of the French Communist Party. The material vocabulary of the building is in that of the early 20th century modernists: a sermon of concrete, steel and glass. However, the lyrical forms poetically sculpted
by Niemeyer’s sensual thought are of a different language; more so a response to the ascetic rationalism pervading architecture hitherto. Perhaps it is proper testament to Niemeyer’s ethos of a ‘form following beauty’, a beauty which he found inextricably linked with the voluptuous curves of a beloved woman and the mountainous terrain of his native Brazil.
Formally, the edifice is composed of tortuous billows of white concrete in structures which seem to suggest a diaphanousness and litheness rather than the gravitas characteristic of concrete. As is often the case in the work of the late-centenarian, acrobatic engineering is synthesized with sensuous spatial articulation, striking a balance distinguishable as a sensitive tensility.
The showpiece of the building is a semi-subterranean white concrete dome cocooning the meeting chamber for the party’s Central Committee. Separation between wall planes and ceiling planes becomes indiscernible as white aluminium panels are suspended from the hemispherical ceiling through which a muted light percolates softly.