Parisians say Frank Gehry ‘Cloud’ must be scrapped
Architect stunned by request to scrap cultural foundation now being built in the Bois de Boulogne
Legendary architect Frank Gehry is reported to be "stunned, shocked and angry" after Parisians demanded that an extravagant and futuristic cultural centre being built to his design in the Bois de Boulogne should be scrapped. Jean Nouvel, the French architect collaborating with Gehry on the £84m glass-covered building in the woods to the west of the French capital, expressed Gehry’s feelings in an interview with French paper Le Journal du Dimanche.
Not only was Gehry reeling from the court decision last month to halt work on the centre – officially called the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation but nicknamed the 'Cloud' on account of its shape – but Nouvel said it was another example of Parisians’ small-mindedness, accusing them of "lacking civil spirit and culture".
The 81-year-old Gehry, whose portfolio includes the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao and the Dancing House in Prague, was commissioned in 2006 to build a cultural centre to house the art collection of Bernard Arnaud. Reputed to be France’s richest man with a personal fortune in the region of £17 billion, Arnaud is the head of the LVHM luxury goods group and asked Gehry to build a public gallery that would “spread the influence of culture, and the influence of France".
But for local residents the only thing being spread by the centre – which is 46 metres high and covers 12,000 square metres - is concrete and last month they successfully applied to a local court to have building work stopped, the judge ruling that the centre would deny Parisians access to a public right of way in the forest.
"This building must be scrapped," said François Douady, president of the Bois de Boulogne preservation society. "We have nothing against contemporary art but this is nothing more than concreting over the forest. The Louis Vuitton Foundation could easily be built in the heart of Paris."
But Douady’s stance has infuriated Gehry and Nouvel with the latter raging that "these people are proof of a blind and perverse selfishness which goes against the general interest. They are opposed to all changes out of principle... they want to put Paris in formalin. It’s so pathetic."
The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoe, supports the centre and has confirmed he will appeal the court decision in the hope of overturning the ban. ·
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