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A Modern Med: An installation in La Grande - Motte by David Hamerman.

Photo credits: Paul Kozlowsk

La Grande – Motte is a commune on the Mediterranean in Languedoc-Roussillon, southern France. It was built in the 1960s and 1970s at a time when jet travel was being introduced, making mass tourism possible. But whilst the northern Europeans tended to flock to Spain, La Grande – Motte became a firm favourite with the French themselves.

The Festival des Architecture Vives, has become part of the national architecture debate in France. Part of its annual celebration is to build two pavilions one of which for this year is in La Grande – Motte. It is designed by David Hammerman. This pavilion is also part of a process that to some degree begins to write a cultural heritage for a place that is also coming of age.

The pavilion by David Hammerman Architects, both captures the frivolity of the mass tourist with its glancing reference to Egyptian architectural icons, and it comments on the notion that one can build an instant town by the sea, through the choice of concrete re-bar as the material of construction.

The installation speaks of the romantic idea of love, of sea, of sun. The deck chairs remind us how we sit on the beach worshipping the sun, and how that resonates with the Ancient Egyptian worship of their sun God, Ra.

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We see the curve of the cornice simultaneously the Papyrus growing on the banks of the Nile, the great cornices of fallen palaces, and yet the reinforcements of a great insitu wall ready for the pouring of its concrete.

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