Claude Parent, architect and theoretician of “oblique function”, passed away this past Saturday at the age of 93.
Trained at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Parent studied under Le Corbusier and collaborated with the philosopher Paul Virilio to form the idea of “oblique function”. Jean Nouvel in Domus, on the occasion of the 2010 retrospective on Parent at the Cité de l’Architecture in Paris, describes the architect’s theoretical interests as preoccupied with “interior spaces in continuation, based on sequences of oblique and horizontal planes. The radicalism and expressiveness of these principles scramble all the conventions of orthogonal modernity.”
Parent’s built work is small in number but highly impactful. His Maison Drusch (Versailles, FR) and Church Sainte-Bernadette du Banlay (Nevers, FR) exemplify his “oblique” theories, constructing dramatic, sloped spaces to provoke inhabitants into being more self-aware. His “utopian” preoccupations and methodology has inspired many architects, most explicitly Jean Nouvel, whose first professional work as an architect was in collaboration with Parent.
A 2010 profile published in 032c provides a detailed look into Parent’s theory and role in French architectural history. His influence may be seen today in the work of Jean Nouvel, SANAA, Sou Fujimoto, and surely many more to come.
Wolf D. Prix, on the passing of Claude Parent:
The world has lost a great architect who, among many others, deserved the Pritzker Prize already a long time ago. I have lost a great friend and supporter whom I as an architect appreciated and will always appreciate.