CE27 - Culture, créations, patrimoine

Aluminium, Architecture & Heritage, XX-XXIst centuries – ARCHIPAL

Aluminium, Architecture & Heritage, 20th – 21st Century

Lightweight, resistant, infinitely recyclable, aluminium emerged as a material emblematic of modernity thanks to its technical characteristics. It inspired architects because it offers artistic experimentation a range of possibilities that is particularly stimulating both in terms of the variety of forms that can be achieved and the aspects and the colors available. This facility to disguise oneself is questioned from the point of view of the history and the sociology of techniques.

Between history and conservation, a metal to be discovered

The aim of ARCHIPAL Aluminium, Architecture & Heritage, 20th – 21st Century program is to identify the place of aluminium in the architecture history, to understand its heritage processes and to inventory its presence and its state of conservation in the French built heritage. It will contribute to the history of contemporary architecture and its technical innovations and to defining strategies for the conservation and restoration, in an approach marked by the values of sustainable development.<br />How did such a material, by its appearance, impose itself and was it perceived by its contemporaries? What were the actors of this technical change that saw wood give way to metal in architecture? How has the aluminium processing sector evolved in the context of European construction, the politics of national champions, then the various economic crises and finally sustainable development issues? Aluminium is a key element of the cultural and technical heritage of the 20th and 21st centuries, at the heart of very contemporary tensions related to the current issues of sustainable development: its recycling to produce new products, or its conservation and adaptation to environmental requirements. <br />The ARCHIPAL project also proposes, based on the identification of the French architectural heritage of aluminium, to collect through a dedicated database all the general and technical information, the details of composition and implementation, as well as to establish a sanitary condition of these buildings, ornaments, sculptures of aluminium.

A stakeholder approach should provide, with a fine chronology, what were the areas of innovation and its terms. On this side, it will be necessary to enter the heart of the history of techniques, to understand the development of alloys, manufacturing processes (spinning, bending, molding), the choice of assembly methods (welding, gluing, riveting, etc.), or the resolution of sealing and fixing problems of the glass.
The ANR also allows the development of an approach and a methodology for analyzing aluminum alloys used in construction, with portable devices. This is to test the contributions and limitations, both in terms of implementation in situ as well as in terms of the evaluation of the composition of the alloys encountered and the characterization of the surface finishes.
Among the expected achievements of the project, the database «Aluminium & built heritage« is a new tool for managing aluminium heritage and will be hosted on the platform of the TGRI.
Based on an assessment of the state of weathering, associated environmental and societal conditions, it will identify appropriate research, conservation and restoration strategies. By gathering technical, historical and cultural information on the heritage elements concerned, this database will provide a working tool for all stakeholders in the world of research interested in the problem of built heritage: historians, architects of buildings in France , inventory researchers, restorers, etc.

A first conference was held on May 6, 2019 to lay down the methodological framework of the project and to publicize new archives. After several postponements due to the pandemic context, the first session of the seminar «Aluminum in 19th-21st century architecture and cities, a heritage in perspective« is rescheduled on Oktober 19, 2020. «Database« and «thesaurus« workshops were organized with the aim of carrying out inventories of architectural elements.
Archives and images are made available progressively on www.culturalu.org and www.hypothese.org sites.

The assembled corpus - databases and cartography - will feed the research work along three main lines: 1. The role of architectural creation in the diffusion of the aluminium within the building sector, in particular through the use of surface finishing 2. Technical innovations, markets and companies in the use of materials in buildings and public works 3. The heritage of aluminium frames and its challenges for architectural constructions of today and tomorrow.
On February 8, 2021, a second conference entitled «Building in aluminum: companies and architects« will be held at Paris Sorbonne University and will be an opportunity to bring together researchers and professionals from various disciplinary fields, in a real interdisciplinarity. 3 themes were identified: Architecture and engineer / The entrepreneur / Industry, suppliers and consumers. A final round table will bring together professionals and researchers.
This dialogue is established on a regular basis by the joint seminar held at the Paris La Villette School of Architecture.

- Florence Hachez-Leroy, « L’aluminium et le pari du nouvel âge architectural. 1945-1955 », G. Rot et F. Vatin dir., L’esthétique des trente glorieuses, Librairie des Musées, 2020.
- Dominique Barjot, « Alcan et Pechiney : une comparaison des processus de multinationalisation en période de croissance instable des marchés (de 1971 à la première moitié des années 1990) », dans Dominique Barjot (dir.), L’internationalisation de l’industrie française de l ‘aluminium, Cahiers d’histoire de l’aluminium, n° 63, décembre 2019
- «Sources, aluminum and architecture« workshop, May 6, 2019, EHESS, CRH UMR 8558, Paris
- Seminar: «A heritage to be built: aluminum in architecture«, ENSA Paris La Villette, AHTTEP-AUSser UMR 3329 and CRH - EHESS UMR 8558

The aim of the "Aluminium, Architecture & Heritage, 20th – 21st Century" program (ARCHIPAL) is to identify the history of aluminium in architecture, to understand its heritage processes and to inventory the presence and the state of conservation of this material in the built heritage of France. It will contribute to the history of contemporary architecture and its technical innovations and to defining strategies for the conservation and restoration of this industrial heritage, in an approach marked by the values of sustainable development. It is part of a multidisciplinary approach to materials, substance and materiality. Lightweight, durable, resistant and malleable, infinitely recyclable, thanks to its technical characteristics aluminium emerged during the 20th and 21st century as material that was emblematic of modernity, . It inspired architects because it offers a range of possibilities for artistic experimentation that is particularly stimulating in terms of the variety of forms that can be achieved and of the colors and appearances - unfinished, matt, brushed or glossy - and available. This multiplicity is investigated from the point of view of the history and the sociology of technology: how did such a material, by its appearance, impose itself and how was it perceived by contemporaries? Who were the players involved in this technical change that saw wood give way to metal in architecture? How hasthe aluminium processing sector evolved, in the context of European construction, the politics of promoting “national champions”, then in that of successive economic crises and, finally, of sustainable development issues? Aluminium is a key element of the cultural and technical heritage of the 20th and 21st centuries, at the heart of very contemporary tensions related to current issues of sustainable development: its recycling to produce new products, or its conservation and adaptation to environmental requirements. The ARCHIPAL project also proposes, based on the identification of the French architectural heritage of aluminium, to collect by means of a dedicated database all the general and technical information, the details of composition and implementation, and at the same time to establish the condition of these buildings, ornaments, and sculptures in aluminium. One of the anticipated results of the project, the "Aluminium & built heritage" database is a new tool for managing aluminium heritage and will be hosted on the platform of the TGRI. Based on an assessment of the state of weathering, associated environmental and societal conditions, it will identify appropriate research, conservation and restoration strategies. By gathering technical, historical and cultural information on the heritage elements concerned, this database will provide a working tool for all stakeholders in the research field of built heritage: historians, French heritage architects, , heritage inventory researchers, restorers, etc.
Based on an assessment of the state of deterioration and associated environmental and social conditions, it will help to define strategies for research, conservation and appropriate restoration. By gathering technical, historical and cultural information on the heritage elements concerned, this database will provide a working tool for all stakeholders in the research field interested in the problem of built heritage: historians, heritage architects in France , inventory researchers, restorers, etc.
The corpus to be analyzed- databases and cartography - will orient the research in three main directions: 1. The role of architectural creation in the spread of aluminium throughout the building sector, in particular by the use of surface finishing 2. The role of technical innovations, markets and companies in the choice of materials in buildings and public works 3. The heritage of aluminium building and its challenges for the architecture of today and tomorrow.

Project coordinator

Madame Florence HACHEZ-LEROY (Centre de recherches historiques)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

AUSSER - UMR3329 Architecture Urbanisme Société : Savoir Enseignement Recherche
CRC Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation
LISST LABORATOIRE INTERDISCIPLINAIRE SOLIDARITES, SOCIETES, TERRITOIRES
CRM Centre Roland Mousnier
INSTITUT POUR L' HISTOIRE DE L' ALUMINIUM
CRH - UMR8558 Centre de recherches historiques
HE-Arc CR Haute Ecole Arc Conservation-restauration

Help of the ANR 347,146 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2018 - 48 Months

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