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Exhibition on Jacques Rougerie ‘Living with the sea’ at the Villa Noailles

By 4 June 2024No Comments

From 9th March to 12th May, Villa Noailles invites visitors to plunge into Jacques Rougerie’s oceanic imagination with its monographic exhibition “Living with the Sea”. Through a richly documented and sensational tour, visitors can follow the architect’s works and programme, from his first experiments in the 1970s to the techno-enthusiasm of the 2000s.

Aquascope at sea, 1985 – © Créations Jacques Rougerie

Jacques Rougerie: towards an “underwater” civilisation

Architect, oceanographer and member of the Académie des Beaux Arts, Jacques Rougerie spent his childhood surrounded by the marine world off the coast of Africa, the novels of Jules Vernes and the exploits of Captain Cousteau. It was with Cousteau that he experienced his first immersion in the sea, which gave him a taste for oceanic exploration and the desire to build new habitats for an underwater civilisation. A self-declared “merian” as opposed to “terrestrial”, he called for a shift in the centre of gravity of architecture, traditionally devoted to the earth’s surface, towards Archimedes’ buoyancy. His projects are conceived as genuine anticipations in the service of the resilience of the habitat and a sustainable future.

Cité des mériens – © Créations Jacques Rougerie

Floating station – © Créations Jacques Rougerie

The exhibition at the Villa Noailles – delving into the work of a visionary architect

The exhibition invites visitors to browse through his most emblematic projects: from the Archéoscope designed for the Golfe de Giens in Hyères, to the Galathée underwater house for Osaka, via his Aquabulles and his flagship project for the International Ocean Station. Their shapes, inspired by the characteristics of living things and depicted in the style of comic strips, evoke science fiction: here, humans have left the Earth for life in liquid form or in space. Original drawings, a collection of his models (including one of an underwater village borrowed from the collections of the Centre Pompidou) and texts by Jacques Rougerie are presented, offering a panorama of the ambitions of this visionary architect. With Rougerie, the sea becomes a total living environment, encompassing every scale: body, clothing, habitat, underwater urbanism. The Villa Noailles also offers a unique opportunity to get up close to the Aquabulle underwater habitat, which has been tested on numerous occasions in the Mediterranean, notably off the coast of Hyères.

Underwater village, 1973 – © Créations Jacques Rougerie

Underwater farm – © Créations Jacques Rougerie

Jacques Rougerie’s architecture: from a scientific and mimetic approach to autonomous, sustainable and fanciful structures 

Far from being merely fanciful, Jacques Rougerie’s projects are rooted in solid scientific research. The Lab Rougerie, a forward-looking research laboratory, and the Database, a technical and scientific library, are the two cores around which this visionary architecture is built. The Foundation carries out biomorphic studies to design sustainable, self-sufficient ocean structures capable of preserving the integrity of marine ecosystems.

Seaorbiter – © Créations Jacques Rougerie

Pulmo, underwater housing and laboratory – © Créations Jacques Rougerie

Combining dream and pragmatism, the Seaorbiter synthesises more than thirty years of work and experiments under the sea to explore, analyse and transmit the data acquired on the oceans. Shaped like a seahorse, this silver vessel sails with the ocean’s major currents, opening up a new field of exploration dedicated to the ocean and its essential role in biodiversity and climate.