Two takes on modernity this week, one a persuasive discourse on industry and craft, the other a ‘crude and inarticulate’ shout
The Maison de Verre, which was completed in 1932, sits in a traditional Paris courtyard. It was constructed under the upper floors of an apartment building, whose owner refused to move.
It is a brilliant hybrid of industrial production and craft technologies.
The public face, presented to the courtyard, is constructed of glass bricks set in a steel frame, giving privacy and suffusing the interior with natural light. It is this quality of light, together with the 3D spatial grandeur of the interior and the poetic use of the materials that makes this house so special.
St George’s Wharf, designed by Broadway Malyan for the St George arm of Berkeley Homes, is a large residential complex, sitting on the south bank of the Thames. It dominates the view with its pagoda-style roofs, inarticulate form, crude materials and colour. It contributes nothing to the city. For this blunder to the townscape of London, the local planning authority should also take part of the blame.
The Maison de Verre was designed by Pierre Chareau and built in the early modern style from steel, glass and glass blocks. The “industrial” materials included rubber floor tiles, bare steel beams and perforated metal sheets. Much of the house was designed on site as the project developed.
St George’s Wharf was designed by Broadway Malyan and built in a number of phases. It accommodates 941 apartments, shops, restaurants, offices and a 400-bed hotel.
Su Rogers is a partner in John Miller + Partners and a former member of Team 4 with Richard Rogers, Norman Foster and Wendy and Georgie Cheesman
Images: Emmanuel Thirard/RIBA Library Photographs Collection