October 2017

Georges Buzzi

  • The "Glorious Thirty" spirit




 George Buzzi fait partie des plus grands promoteurs sur la Côte d'Azur.

He is none other than the architect who brought modernity into the Côte d’Azur's architectural landscape. "We were constantly looking for new materials and innovatory techniques. The world had changed; it was open to new ideas, or at least those seen as new. I was able to work in accord with my convictions without any struggle." The world Georges Buzzi talks of is the post-war one that would fashion a completely renewed architectural landscape. Not always an easy mission to accomplish, as demonstrated by the construction of the new harbour station in Cannes. Buzzi won the competition for that in 1952 and the building was completed in 1957. To it he applied his vision of architecture, forged alongside Auguste Perret, under whom he studied, and enriched by the influence of modernists such as Mies van

der Rohe, Gropius, Wright, Le Corbusier and Niemeyer: metal structure, twolarge, simple volumes combined so as to express a functional duality, roof terrace. And, importantly, a huge ceramic fresco by the famous Vallauris ceramicist, Roger Capron. "Once it was built the fun began: attacks from all sides, press articles for and against, readers even suggesting the architect should be hung, but lauded by celebrities such as Cocteau, Mme Weisweler, Picasso, Pignon and numerous architects." 


20th-century heritage 

Time proved them right, for in October 2006 Cannes's harbour station was designated "20th-Century Heritage". Two more of Buzzi's buildings have since been similarly recognised: the futuristic, brutalistic Saint-Martin de Peille chapel (1950-52) and the Capron couple's chalet (1960) in Beuil, its modernity communicat­ing the deliberately frank use of materials and joyous, colourful decoration typical of the period. Jean-Lucien Bonillo, lecturer at the Ecole Nationale d’Architecture in Marseille and director of the INAMA labo­ratory: "Georges Buzzi is among the architects who successfully tuned their enthusiasm and desire for modernity into the dynamics of an aptly-named era, the "Thirty Glorious" years from 1945 to 1975. As with the best, his work on occasion provoked polemics, then with the passing years was retrospectively validated by heritage-aware eyes." Buzzi built his first contemporary commission on the Cap d’Antibes in 1957, for horticulturalist and rose breeder Armand Paolino; the Villa Eden Rose drew inspiration from Richard Neutra's work but Buzzi's signa­ture is already evident: free-flowing forms, architecture of volumes, etc. Georges Buzzi continued working until 1995, leaving behind a considerable and diverse oeuvre; from the Acropolis rectorate in Nice (with Pierre Baptiste and Pierre Bernasconi) through the Griesser factory in Carros and the Caisse d’Epar­gne et de Prévoyance cooperative bank in Nice to the Magnan sports complex, his architectural vocabulary enabled the Côte d’Azur to clearly state its desire for modernity.


By Alexandre Benoist - Portait : Marjorie Modi