Paul Andreu, born on July 10, 1938 in Caudéran, France.
He was the architect of 20 airports around the world, including Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle, which he designed at the age of 29 and for which he is best known. He went on to design all the other terminals at Roissy airport as it was extended, as well as its central complex of railway stations (RER and TGV). Already known in the world of architects for his airport projects, he became known to the French public when the Grande Arche de la Défense was built.
On 23 May 2004, a section of Terminal 2E at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport collapsed, one year after it was opened, killing four people and injuring seven. Having designed this building, his responsibility as an architect was then engaged and this marked him deeply, to the point that he hardly did any new projects in France afterwards.
In 2008, he held a conference titled ‘Steel and light’. I wanted to share an extract in which he explains his relationship with steel as a building material.
“When you talk about steel, you talk about desire. How can this material make itself desired?”
“At the time of my first projects, steel construction did not allow for all that it can do today, not only in technical terms but also in terms of creativity and the poetry of the structures. It was thanks to my meeting with the engineer Peter Rice, at the time of the Roissy TGV station and the Arche de la Défense, that I understood the infinite possibilities of steel associated with research on light. Since then, I have never stopped working on the luminous purity that shapes the volumes. In parallel with the concern for rational elements, it is desire that guides me, that pushes me, a desire that must be constantly rekindled and revived throughout a project. A desire for simplicity and evidence. A desire for light and lightness. Not lightness in terms of kilos and tons, but rather an impression of lightness. When describing this search for grace and suspended movement in a project, Peter Rice used a very beautiful word, he spoke of ‘lightness’.
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.