The “Espace Niemeyer”, located in Paris’ 19tharrondissement, is not only home to the French Communist Party (PCF) but also a space dedicated to artistic expression. After a long hesitation on whether to write an article about this building or about the equally futuristic-looking building which houses the newspaper Le Monde, I decided, in the end, to opt for the former i.e. for the one with the most history (do, however, look up a photo of the latter!). Indeed, work on the building started in 1968, only to end in 1980 as it was interrupted from 1971-1978 due to lack of funds.
An example of modern architecture, the building was designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer – a prominent figure of modern architecture and fervent communist – who sought refuge in France after fleeing his country following a military coup in the 1960s. The building rests on five stilts which elevate it above ground and uses new materials such as concrete. Niemeyer himself described his work as “simple”, a building with “new shapes” but exempt of any luxurious or superfluous finishes.
The design of the exterior, as well as of the interior offers a play of light and shade, which make it an ideal location for art exhibitions. The “Espace Niemeyer” has also been used for fashion shows organised by Prada, Jean-Paul Gaultier and the likes of Kanye West, as well as a set for music videos and films. Somewhat paradoxical, don’t you think, for the headquarters of the PCF?