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Exhibition on the utopian island of Raon-L’Etape

To mark the forthcoming reopening of the “L’Eau vive” motel in Raon-L’Etape, which opened in 1968, an exhibition devoted to the work of Pascal Häusermann and Claude Costy is opening at the Musée Pierre Noël in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges from 27 April to 25 August 2024.

Exhibition poster, crédits Studio 2920g

A master of “sculpture-architecture”, the Häusermann-Costy couple advocate architecture with flexible concepts, as much in the built forms as in the societal and administrative aspects. Their work is characterised by organic forms in shotcrete, without walls or right angles. According to Claude Costy: “It gives a feeling of freedom. There is no beginning and no end.”

Pascal Häusermann at “L’eau vive”, 1967, photograph, private collection

The exhibition focuses on the couple’s most accomplished work, ‘L’Eau-vive’, a hotel village of 11 bubbles situated on a river island formed by the arms of the river La Plaine. Its round, luminous white shapes are set against a lush green backdrop, offering guests a friendly, poetic and inspiring place to stay. Far from being mere fantasies, these bubble homes respond to technical and economic concerns, as evidenced by the economy of materials and the optimisation of space.

Left derelict for several years, the site was restored in the early 2000s by a team of five enthusiasts of the 60s and 70s. They wanted to revive their original decorative style and decorated the homes with objects by designers such as Charles Eames and Verner Panton. With their curved shapes, fanciful patterns and bright colours, the bubbles recapture the psychedelic spirit of the 1970s.

The hotel bubbles, crédits Musée Pierre Noël

The exhibition features a varied collection of original drawings, models, photographs, period publications and film extracts, enabling visitors to follow the genesis, implementation, design and reception of the project over the years. Successively adulated, protected, abandoned and then rehabilitated, this utopian island was finally listed as a historic monument in 2014.

Pauline Leroux