André Ravéreau was a French architect, emigrated to Algeria, who knew how to inscribe his projects in the entirety of a culture, its climate, its location, its constructive knowledge.
The influence of the Mozabite architecture
André Ravéreau (1919-2017) was a French architect who specialized in the study of Algerian vernacular architecture. His architectural practice was greatly influenced by his student discoveries. As a student of Auguste Perret at the Beaux Arts, he appreciated the poetry of construction that he transmitted. But it was in 1949, still a student, that he traveled to Algeria in the M’zab valley. The Mozabite architecture was for him a real lesson of architecture, he discovered there the harmony of its forms and the rigour of its construction. In 1959 he set up his workshop in Ghardaia in order to continue the study of an architecture wich mastered the adaptation to the constraints of the environment. He wishes to combine the vernacular know-how with the gesture of the confirmed architecture. He also worked to safeguard the cultural and architectural heritage of Algeria. All his life his architectural work will free itself from imitation, he is more interested in the place, the climate and the culture in order to really inscribe his project in its environment, rather than the copy of architectural elements out of context.
A sloping project
In 1966 the Algerian Ministry of Culture wanted to build a museum of Muslim art in Alger. André Ravéreau’s proposal is the architectural expression of his reflection on Algerian architecture. The museum was to be established on a sloping ground called the terraces of Mustapha. Ravéreau proposed a vertical distribution of spaces, playing visually between the different levels and taking advantage of the slope for the luminous atmospheres.
The main access is via the upstream terrace, which gives an unobstructed view of the sea. The two other levels are partially buried in the slope, allowing a gain of space for the exposition of objects and a control of the lighting. The arrival at the first level leads to a visual axis, a descent of stairs, which ends in a large glass surface open to the sea, on the north side. The exhibition of the objects was planned as a large bazaar, a department store where the objects were organized by nature of article. Finally, all along the route, visual openings give a view of the workshops where the museum’s collections were repaired.
The project, which was relatively simple in terms of volume, was not built in the end. However, it is remarkable by its integration into the site, by its installation in the slope, but also by the visual openings made from the building. Moreover, the space of the generous roof terrace combined with the controlled luminosity in the building reflect the influences of André Ravéreau without falling into a stereotypical regionalism.
© André Ravéreau/ADAGP