Rudy Ricciotti

| Rudy Ricciotti (*1952)


In the 1980s, engineer and architect Rudy Ricciotti practised a hedonistic architecture, involving the pleasure of form and space. Then, with the advent of the 1990s, he veered away from the formal deadlocks of neo-modernism. From then on his work has been informed by a critical radicalness which would find early expression in the Vitrolles Stadium (1994). This suburban bunker, made of dark concrete, rises up in the midst of bauxite slagheaps, redefining a rubbish tip. Land Art practitioner Robert Smithson employed the concept of "ruins in reverse" for this post-industrial nature. Similarly, architecture and landscape are entropic in Vitrolles, at once vitalist and fractured in their semantic itinerary. The rough expressiveness of this monolith—at once isolated block and mineral concretion—is at the same time a paradox. Its façade is as if smithereened by countless red motifs, which glow day and night. The massive imposition of the building is hollowed out within, in the form of fiercely extruded walls. The backwashes of light dwindle into wires which streak the space with their kinetic vibrations. Shape and shapelessness, opaqueness and holes, compactness and upheavals, darkness of the primitive mass and telescoped lights, all refer, in their harsh alchemy of opposites, to the poetics of the Sublime and to the spatial constructs of Suprematism, where matter and sign, and obscurity and lightness are one. Everything contributes here to foil the unitary understanding of the building. Architecture is, from the outset, a heterogeneous and paradoxical sign. Form is not irreducible and implacable, beauty and ugliness are not end purposes, but operational processes which must give on to hybrid fields of appropriation of the real, culminating in an architecture that Ricciotti describes as "impure". Architecture as artefact, a conflagration of possibles, extracted from the composite fabric of the real and from the make-believe fabric of artistic creation. The Apollonian and the Dionysiac, the minimal and the expressive all merge together in the transgressive territorial cut-out represented by the Villa Lyprendi (Toulon), a window stretched horizontally over 115 feet (35 m), like a slash of transparency in the surrounding landscape. The eye often only looks out onto the outside through the cracks laminating the space (College 600, St. Ouen, 1997 ; EDF Houses, 1999), as if to shut out any underground viewpoint on the world. This fault architecture, involving the obliqueness of the sign, a resistance to pigeonholed divisions of space, and a refusal of mind-boggling hierarchies, which advocates the multiplicity of meaning of both artifice and falseness (dead palm tree and Vitrolles blue, or poppy field at St. Ouen), is thus an architecture of the availability of meaning. As a contemporary art lover and collector, Ricciotti espouses an aesthetics of poverty, vulgarity and low-tech, as energy-giving material. The conceptual paths that Ricciotti explores come across in a tension between optimism and negativity. The complexity of the real—the cross-fertilization of cultures, and the mixedness of word fields and social behaviour patterns—is part and parcel of his conception of architecture. Rudy Ricciotti's architecture, which is fictional, narrative and disruptive, triggers incoherence, while at the same time drawing its critical operational quality from a questioning of art.

Marie-Ange Brayer



Villa Lyprendi
Toulon, France 1998


This house is affixed to the buttresses of the Toulon roads, looking out to sea. It is part of a recent housing development whose specifications dictated a regionalist architectural expression—pale rendering, Roman tile-covered gable roofs. Rudy Ricciotti twists this restriction by embedding his project in the very steep slope (45º). The house is incorporated in a parallelepiped volume 115 feet (35 m) long, and unfurls along the mountain, opening broadly on to the landscape combining city and sea—its sole façade. Made up of a continuous glass surface, it is duplicated by a linear terrace cantilevered over the void, and a sun screen treated like horizontal, artificial foliage. The materials used are rough and stark, often borrowed from industrial architecture : polished concrete slab, wood, metal, glass. The applications assert the simplicity of the building, in their turn rejecting any technological effect and any industrial performance. As a minimalist object, cutting into the mountain, the house represents a radical counterpoint to the architecture roundabout. 


Le Stadium
Vitrolles, France 1994


Ricciotti's Stadium is at once a performance hall and a sports hall, accommodating up to 5000 spectators, which soars with its opaque mass over a site which it seems to want to ward off. Located on the outskirts of Vitrolles, where there used to be a rubbish tip, it is served by an expressway and lies adjacent to a still working bauxite mine. The Stadium contrasts this severe setting with the radical nature of its form, a cube of rough concrete coloured black in its mass, an enigmatic monolith, placed on an esplanade calling to mind the bareness of an airstrip. Rudy Ricciotti has inlaid this "brutalist gem" with a host of small orange-red lights as a reference to the bauxite which stains the land all around, but also possibly as a nighttime reference to the glowing red streams of car lights running alongside the Stadium. The entrance to the building, first of all hidden but indicated by a strange aluminium palm tree, is located lowermost beneath a thick horizontal slab of concrete, as if you were going into a bunker. As a negative, anti-establishment mass, the Stadium has locally become a centre of the rock culture.



Musée des Arts Premiers
Quai Branly, Paris, France
Concours, 1999


In his project for the Musée des Arts Premiers, Rudy Ricciotti espoused a critical stance to the actual programme. Located at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, distant throwback to an imperialist west whose influence encompassed the world, the museum had a duty above all, in his view, to veer radically away from all those colonialist connotations floating over its collection. For this perforce problematic monument, he discarded any unitary option, be it continuous or frontal, preferring to operate by lateralization, burial and suspension. Above the large collection room, cantilevered over the Seine, the roof offers a large accessible terrace. Roundabout, a garden, where flora mingles with architecture, fills the entire site. In the crevice in the ground are hewn out a series of interactive venues, lit by and accessible from faults. From outside, even when the museum is closed, these offer many different intersecting views of the collections. Close by, a volume borrowing the surrounding Haussmannesque scale houses staff and researchers.


Gare Maritime
Marseille, France, 2000


The project, at the end of the wharf, occupies a special position, at the gateway to both city and sea. It serves two opposite quays, one to the west the other to the east, forcing it to develop along this axis and to be programmatically duplicated. The option chosen by Rudy Ricciotti is, in spite of everything, one of compactness. A single building incorporates all the functions, cutting down on useless circuits, encouraging a streamlined programme and rationalized movements and flows, and offering a sturdier profile both to the Mistral wind and to the spray. An atrium-like hall, open to the south and shared by both zones, fills the middle of the project, containing the waiting area and shops on the upper level, and check-in and baggage registration on the ground floor. On both sides the programme is developed symmetrically, based on a logic that is not vertical but horizontal: each level contains both public areas (passenger hall, baggage zone), technical facilities, and premises for the personnel, as well as carparks linked to the station by footbridges straddling the set-down area and the different vehicle flows. This horizontal option is confirmed by the tectonics of the building : rough concrete slabs with large spans on minimal, rarefied supports.


Rudy Ricciotti (1952)

1975 – Diplômé de l'Ecole d'Ingénieurs de Genève, Architecte ETSG
1980 – Diplômé de l'Ecole d'Architecture de Marseille
1980 – Création de l'Agence à Marseille

Principaux projets et réalisations

2000 – "Gare maritime" Marseille (concours) ; "Passerelle de Séoul" Corée ; "Restructuration de l'Abbaye de Montmajour" ; "Salle de concert philharmonique" Postdam (en cours) ; "Salle de spectacles" Sélestat (Strasbourg) (en cours) ; "Scènes de musique contemporaine de Nîmes" (études) ; "Réaménagement du Centre National de la Photographie" Paris (études) ; "Centre National Chorégraphique d'Aix en Provence" (études)
1999 – "Musée des Arts Premiers" Quai Branly, Paris (concours) ;"Maisons individuelles EDF" (concours) ; "Villa et piscine Le Goff" Marseille (réalisée) ;"Villa et piscine Marmonier" La Garde (réalisée)
1998 – "Villa Lyprendi" Toulon (réalisée) ; "Foyer-restaurant du CREPS" Boulouris (réalisé) ; "Grand hall de la Faculté des Sciences" Marseille (réalisé)
1997 – "Collège 600" Saint Ouen (réalisé) ; "Villa Gros" Gémenos (réalisée)
1996 – "Centre d'entretien autoroutier A20" Uzerche (réalisé) ; "Collège 900" Auriol (réalisé)
1995 – "Base nautique de Bandol" (réalisée) ; "Villa Chaix" restructuration d'un mas, Ramatuelle (réalisée)
1994 – "Stadium de Vitrolles" (réalisé) ; "Salle des Fêtes" Port Saint Louis du Rhône (réalisée)
1993 – "Salle de spectacles et de cinéma" Pierrelatte (lauréat)
1992 – "Centre d'information et de coordination routière" Marseille (réalisé)
1986 – "Centre des loisirs de jeunes" Bandol (réalisé)

Principale Publication de Rudy Ricciotti

1998 – "Pièces à Conviction - Les interviews vitriol d'un Sudiste" éditions Sens & Tonka (sept.)

Bibliographie sélective

1999 – Le Moniteur (mai et août) ; d'Architecture (juin) ; Architecture d'Aujourd'hui (fév.) ; Construction Moderne (déc.) ; "99 Architectures en 99" Maison d'Architecture et de Construction de Chine (juin) ; World Architecture Review (juin)
1998 – "Re-Création : 21 architectures en France à l'aube du XXIème siècle" (1998/2000 : exposition itinérante en Amérique Latine) AFAA / Ministère de la Culture, France/Argentine ; De Architect (nov.) ; Space Design (sept.) ; The Architectural Review (juil.); Le Moniteur AMC (mai) ; Techniques & Architecture (janv.)
1997 – "Stadium de Vitrolles" éditions Taschen ; Archi-Créé (sept. et nov.) ; Techniques et Architecture (sept.) ; Le Moniteur AMC (juin) ; l'Arca (janv.) ; Connaissance des Arts (août)
1996 – Techniques et Architecture (oct.) ; Le Moniteur AMC (avril et juil.) ; d'Architecture (avril) ; l'Arca (fév.) ; Werk Bauen+Wohnen (fév.) ; The Architectural Review (fév.)