Day 351/365 of Steel – Vladimir Bodiansky

Vladimir Bodiansky (b. March 25, 1894 – d. December 10, 1966)

Russian-born engineer Vladimir Bodiansky (1894–1966) was an important, though relatively unknown, figure in French architectural and engineering history who began his career as a civil engineer, turning to aeronautical engineering during the 1920s and to the building industry in the 1930s. It was his encounter with architects Marcel Lods and Le Corbusier that marked a turning point in the career of this engineer whose supreme quest was industrialization of the construction industry.

Maison du Peuple, Clichy
Fig 1: Maison du Peuple, Clichy
Photo: Lolo92110

The Cité de la Muette social housing complex in Drancy (1931–1934), the less well-known one of Champs-des-Oiseaux in Bagneux (1927–1933) and the Quarry Hill social housing complex in Leeds in England (1936– 1937) constitute some highly significant pre-war examples of the implementation of industrialization through the prefabrication of components.

Bodiansky and Prouvé were also closely involved in The Maison du Peuple (1938) in Clichy by architects Marcel Lods & Eugène Beaudouin. It was the first prefabricated building with a curtain wall and steel frame to be built in France. The architects and engineers envisaged a maximum use of the space.

However, the upper floor can be converted into offices and a multi-purpose hall with a capacity of 1,000 seats, or into a cinema. The building is entirely modular, with demountable and retractable partitioning components. Moreover, it has a movable glass roof (open or closed attic).

This project shows that a transformable, multifunctional building is not a new invention. Having flexibility and modularity at the heart of its design, and by using light steel construction techniques, the Maison du Peuple allows to house an innovative program and adapt to the needs of its “people”.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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