Door 16: Georges Candilis

Photography by © Martine Franck

Architecture can be approached in multiple ways. There are architects who push their very own design language, others take the environment into account and then there are architects, who put the people at the basis of their designs. A prime example for the later is the architect Georges Candilis. He said that architecture should "allow people to meet each other, to know each other. And the knowledge leading to friendship strengthens the peace between the people".

Nid d’abeille Housing in Casablanca by Woods and Candilis, 1952-1953

He was born in Azerbaijan in 1913 into a family with roots from Eastern Europe. After the family returned, he grew up in Athens where he studied architecture from 1931 until 1936 at the Polytechnic School. During that time he met Le Corbusier, who visited the city for the fourth Congrès internationaux d'architecture moderne in 1933. This friendship led to Candilis moving to France in 1945 and working for Le Corbusier, where was involved in the construction of the famous Unité d'Habitation de Marseille. In 1951 together with Shadrach Woods became in charge of ATBAT's projects in Tangier, but had to leave soon after because of political tensions.

Interior of Freie Universität Berlin

In 1954 he returned to Paris and formed together with the architects Alexis Josic and Shadrach Woods a partnership, which lasted from 1955 until 1969. Their goal was to reduce the costs of housing, especially three-bedroom apartments. They famously did so in Bagnols-sur-Cèze and Le Mirail, but also designed other projects like the Freie Universität in Berlin.

Les Carats, 1969

Together with Georges Wursteisen, Pierre Raoux and Zygmund Knyszewsky, he designed the holiday resort Les Carrats in 1969. Next to the housing complex itself, he also designed together with Anja Blomstedt a series of furniture that accompanies the aforementioned project and its needs. Another collaboration with Blomstedt led in 1972 to a completely different outcome but also had efficiency at its core. Called the Hexacube, they made use of prefabricated plastic units that could be assembled easily and individually.

Chairs designed by Candilis and Blomsted for Les Carats

He himself summarized his approach to architecture the following way: "The respect has no formula, no recipe. It is the feeling that architects have to possess with their customers; if the construction can give material satisfactions, the architecture has to bring something furthermore: the dignity and the freedom". Georges Candilis died in 1995 aged 82.

Candilis in front of a Hexacube unit