French impressivism

French impressivism

Remember the future? They do at Charles de Gaulle airport.

Remember the future? They do at Charles de Gaulle airport, to and from which I have flown today. Unleashed like me in the early summer of 1974, it’s a heartfelt paean to the possibilities of steel and concrete, its lines swooping more daringly than any commercial airliner. Hopefully.


For any architect, the chance to design a tower is a childlike thrill. For architects hired in the late 60s, it was a chance to show off.


Function as form: the supporting structure is apparently flown through by a bus.


Ooh, curvy.


The (presumably later) departure boards nod courteously down toward dwarfed travellers. In the background, my office for the day; I wouldn’t agree that the burger is worth €28.


Terminal 3, my access and egress for the day trip, for some reason lies between Terminals 2 (where I was working) and 1. With a little time to throttle before the return flight, I opted to stay on the driverless transit link to check out ol’ №1. Good choice. It’s a supremely confident circular concrete spaceship, the ballsiest building I’ve seen in years.


It’s a perfect circle. All the way round.


Bienvenue indeed. The circular form of the building throws everyone excitingly together.


In the middle of the building, where a weaker mind may have plonked a departure board, there’s open space, creatively lit. It’s also a smoker’s den, and almost worth the emphysema.


What the smokers gaze up at: criss-crossing the central area, a succession of walkways (presumably motorised) which seem to be inspired by Escher.


It’s not just the original architecture which has been gifted with an artistic confidence. Throughout Terminal 1 there are fascinating spaces, some with light fittings your gran would have loved (but presumably cost a lot more these days), others partitioned off by thoughtfully treated glass.


Outside, a jumbo nonchalantly noses along a taxiway.


Back at Terminal 3, also called Roissypôle, which might be the world’s Frenchest name.


Enfin, we soar toward the sky.

Originally published on Facebook, 12 Apr 2017.

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