In France, there are a total of 40,000 sites listed as historical monuments, tells us Stephanie Celle. The Center for National Monuments conserves, maintains, restores and has open to the public the following sites: the prehistoric caves of the Vezere Valley, the megaliths of Carnac, passing by the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, the Sainte Chapelle, the castles of Angers and Azay-le-Rideau, the Arc de Triomphe and the Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier. Stephanie Celle presents this work to us.
* How would you describe your work as a curator at the Center of National Monuments? What role does this institution play in preserving the architectural heritage of France and what do you think are its main challenges?
Stephanie Celle I am the curator for over 20 different monuments representing a large range in diversity. I’m like their family doctor. I travel regularly to see the sites and monitor maintenance interventions as well as preventive interventions that ensure the proper conservation of monuments. When it is necessary to hire a specialist, I write a prescription taking into account all the different “factors of life” of the monument.
As a State architect-planner, I contribute to the development of a more comprehensive vision of integrating the sites within their territory by seeking to create links as required.
The Center of National Monuments (CMN) preserves, maintains, restores and has open to public visit nearly 100 monuments scattered throughout the French territory. These include the prehistoric caves of the Vezere Valley, the megaliths of Carnac, the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, the Sainte Chapelle, the castles of Angers and Azay-le-Rideau, the Arc de Triomphe or the Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier.
In total, in France there are 40,000 sites listed as historical monuments.
Half belong to private owners and about 40% are managed by local authorities. The 100 monuments entrusted to the NMC are among the most iconic heritage sites of our country: architectural archetypes, former properties of the crown, important places in the history of France, homes of famous people. The NMC is also the first French manager of goods for UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
The responsibility for project management was transferred by the Ministry of Culture to the NMC in 2007, and was further supplemented by the creation in 2009 of a scientific management group responsible for the preservation of movable collections located within the monuments.
The NMC therefore brings together today’s skills in conservation and restoration of protected heritage buildings and movable collections, with an excellent level of expertise.
As the premier French public cultural and tourism operator with over 9 million visitors and 200 events each year, the NMC is based on a model of equalization: 6 beneficiary monuments help contribute to the public opening of other sites that are located further away from traditional tourist tours.
The NMC is a veritable tool for national solidarity in heritage, and plays a fundamental role in the conservation and enhancement of monuments, with an overview of each site including economic valuation, integration within the territory and addressing sustainable development issues.
- * What has the NMC done in particular with regards to the battle for the preservation of Modernism? How is this different from the preservation of more traditional architectural heritage, such as the Grands-Chateaux you will be discussing Tuesday at the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach?
Stephanie Celle Most visitors to the Villa Savoye are either architects or architecture students while most people visiting castles are going with their families.
The heritage of the twentieth century still remains an area of interest to a very small number of the public and specialists.The heritage of the twentieth century has not yet acquired its “credentials.”
So first we have to undertake the entirely educational task of explaining that architectural accomplishments from all ages have something to reveal to us about their time and also our history. The heritage of the twentieth century tells us about new construction methods and new types of planning related to the industrial era and the development of suburbs.
It is perhaps more difficult for the public to extract their own cultural education from this period, and yet it exists, obviously. But one must sort through the immense urban and architectural production of the last century. This sorting helps define the heritage of the twentieth century, in areas that will be constantly changing to make them more efficient and more welcoming. All urban projects to come and those that will meet the challenges of sustainable development will be opportunities to question what should be preserved, converted, demolished …
The heritage of the twentieth century will be the result of these operations, and the sorting criteria will be different, giving particular emphasis to economic and social dimensions as well as redefining the notion of authenticity of an architectural work. This is definitely a new venture!
- * Under the Richard Morris Hunt program of which you were a winner in1998, you spent quite some time travelling throughout different cities in the United States. What do you think can be learned by French and American architects when it comes to preserving their respective architectural heritages?
Stephanie Celle The heritage preservation issues facing one country differ from those facing the other and depend on the history of the countries as well as their legislative frameworks that decide whether or not to establish certain obligations.
It is exciting to see how, in the United States, the importance of heritage was first placed on large natural areas offering spectacular scenery while in France, the process was reversed: it is primarily the monument sites which mobilized attention and triggered the first strong preservation measures.
It is also fascinating to study all the underground organizations in the United States that argued on behalf of heritage preservation beginning at the local level first. All these comparisons allow for a new perspective with the understanding that heritage protection is an approach that requires actors, managers and strong action….All exchanges between participants are educational and all international exhanges are stimulating.
In the RMHP, we want to especially facilitate such exchanges between France - United States.
Created in 1990 by the American Architectural Foundation and the French Heritage Society, the Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship (RMHF) allows an exchange of Franco-American architects that are heritage specialists.
The group that we comprise now consisting of 23 French and American professionals is an environment that is extremely rich in terms of heritage experience and exciting because it opens our horizons. It’s an adventure …
Fighting for heritage preservation; France and Florida : two perspectives on the preservation of Modernist Architecture in comparison
Roundatble in English with Stéphanie Celle, French State Architect and Urbanist in Chief, Conservator of the National Monuments, Richard Morris Hunt Prize 1998 for preservation architects; William Cary, Assistant Director of the Miami Beach Planning Department; Jorge Hernandez, Professor, University of Miami School of Architecture, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, National Trust for Historic Preservation and Co-Founder of the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium andJean-François Lejeune, Professor, University of Miami School of Architecture Director of Graduate Studies, Founding member of DOCOMOMO-US/FLORIDA.
Moderated by Flaminia Gennari, Chief curator Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
Followed by a reception.
France and the United States have different views on heritage preservation. The conference will highlight the challenges of preserving historical buildings and in particular of 20th century architecture. The speakers’ presentations will be based on specific cases, like the documentation experience of DoCOMOMO, or the struggle for the protection of the Marine Stadium andthe Art Deco District in Miami or the "Villa Savoye", in Poissy (France), a building considered to be Le Corbusier’s manifesto on new architecture.
With the support of the Délégation générale of the Alliance française in the United States and the Centre des Monuments Nationaux. In collaboration with University of Miami , departement of architecture, Docomomo and Vizcaya Museum . In collaboration with University of Miami , departement of architecture, Docomomo and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Thanks to Betsy hotel, Flower Bazaar and vins de Provence.
GRANDS CHATEAUX AND THEIR GARDENS IN THE LANDSCAPE OF GREATER PARIS TODAY
Lecture in English presented by Stéphanie Celle
French state architect and urbanist, conservator of National monuments, Richard Morris Hunt Prize 1998 for preservation architects
with the participation of Laurence Sabatié-Garat, Head of institutional and international relations, Centre des Monuments Nationaux.
Followed by a reception
Prestigious "châteaux de plaisance" in Ile-de-France were originally built in a close relation to landscape, enjoying the proximity of the river Seine and of a forest. They were places for leisure, entertainment and poetry. Two centuries later, the surroundings have become suburban. To exist, these châteaux must fit in the missing piece of the Greater Paris puzzle.
Organized in collaboration with the French heritage Society with the support of the Délégation générale of the Alliance française in the United States and the Centre des Monuments Nationaux. A special thanks to the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach for generously hosting the lecture.
To know more, visit www.afmiami.org