Jean Balladur’s architecture of La Grande Motte is characterised by an irreverent humanism. Occupying 10-square kilometres of French Mediterranean coastline, Balladur’s monolithic gestures are imbued with a strangely graceful anthropomorphism – as if the relief’s of Jean Arp had been translated to an urban scale.
Balladur, together with the architectural team of Paul Gineste, Pierre Dezeuze, Jean Pierre Bernadet and Landscape Architect Pierre Pillet, is said to have been heavily influenced by the work of Oscar Niemeyer – in particular his design and civil planning with Lúcio Costa for Brasília – which evidences itself in the distinctive use of reinforced concrete in sinuous forms that range in programme from hotels, to stadiums, to marina buildings.
Contrasting the clear references to Modernism, Balladur is also said to have been interested in pre-Columbian pyramids such as the Teotihuacan archaeological complex in Mexico. While capturing the essence of these eyeless stoic masses, Balladur’s Grande Motte has a vitality and esprit de corps that is explicitly site specific.