Architectural Revolution: Unveiling Henri Labrouste's Sainte-Genevieve Library - Free Essay

Published: 2023-11-11
Architectural Revolution: Unveiling Henri Labrouste's Sainte-Genevieve Library - Free Essay
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Architecture
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1049 words
9 min read

It is not as simple to identify romanticism in architecture as it is in literature. Authors like Hugo and Schleges provided lyrical narrations for castles and cathedrals in the past, but not about the Sainte-Genevi√®ve Library. In France, architecture is quite an ordinary scene. However, romanticism flows in architecture, specifically in Henri Labrouste, Le‚Äô on Vaudoyer, Fe‚Äô lix Duban, and Joseph-Louis Duc, commonly referred to as the ‚Äėgang of four.‚Äô Henri Labrouste‚Äôs work is more academic and reserved, differing from other works of painters and poets. The Sainte-Genevi√®ve Library was built for about 13 years from 1839 to 1852 (Sealy 2017). The closest representation to romanticism in Henri Labrouste‚Äôs design is the airy and delicate reading area in the Sainte-Genevi√®ve Library. Countries like Germany and Britain are more dramatic in portraying romanticism, but it is quite different for the French.

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The Sainte-Geneviève Library is more structural and functional, which is reflective of the time that Henri Labrouste grew up. He managed to come up with a unique way to do architecture, by making it simple, more like a container, and supporting the building with visible iron casts inside the room. His architecture can be described as modern and way ahead of his time, and several architects adopted his work after him (Sealy 2017). The Sainte-Geneviève Library went against the standard conventions at that time, and Henri Labrouste sought to create a whole new experience for scholars using the building. It creates a romantic theme on the inside.

The Sainte-Geneviève Library has a unique location in the Place du Panthe’ on and ornaments of high detail. The library creates an almost similar environment to the Notre Dame de Paris, which went against the traditional ways of architecture with unpredictable and strange processes to portray fantasy and reason (Sealy 2017). Some may consider Henri Labrouste’s Sainte-Geneviève Library as rational, but it is not. It has a romantic theme to it with a fatality, alchemical metaphors, and a funerary drama.

‚ÄúThe Truth‚ÄĚ in Sainte-Genevi√®ve Library

Henri Labrouste was keen to incorporate truth in architecture since his early days in the French Academy and when he was in Rome. He created the Etruscan city's antiques, and he used real portraits of shields and weapons instead of creating more sculptor d√©cor as in architectural academics. He repeats it in the ‚Äúportico‚ÄĚ as he suspends shields and lances in the temples of Paestum. Henri Labrouste, therefore, shows rebellion against the classic conventions of art and architecture during his time, which was a representation of certain norms. He ignored the rituals behind the architectural culture to create unique and truthful art. When Henri designed the Sainte-Genevi√®ve Library, he wanted to create more of a presence to engage anyone entering the place. He managed to maneuver the complex architecture as he had to create space for volumes of ancient books (Levine 2017). He decided that the books would serve as the primary form of decoration of the Sainte-Genevi√®ve Library.

In the creation of the Sainte-Geneviève Library, Henri Labrouste shows his urge to create an accurate representation of architecture and avoid conventional ways of doing things. It is also evident in another project he did about the Lape’ rouse shipwreck while ending his time in Rome. Instead of using symbols, he utilized the actual parts of the wreck to create a sense of real memory. It shows how Henri disliked the use of conventional methods in architecture. It shows the value he has on the connection between fiction in architecture and what it truly represents to explain the history behind them (Levine 2017). Henri Labrouster, therefore, portrays the desire for presence in architecture more than anything else.

The Sainte-Geneviève Library Exterior

The Sainte-Geneviève Library has a great and magnificent exterior. It is unique from any other building, and it welcomes one to the vast and well-lit halls and the vaulted galleries which are long and narrow. When one sees the place and goes inside, it occurs like a fictional narrative that represents the scholarly culture in the building, which is strikingly different from an ordinary site. The reading area is well-aerated with lavish decorations and many various artifacts and creates a whole experience for a visitor (Jiménez-Montano et al. 2017). The experience portrays a full décor as it starts from the outside rather than the conventional inside view.

The Sainte-Geneviève Library’s exterior is simple and stands out uniquely. Henri Labrouste planned this as he thought it was best for the Sainte-Geneviève Library to have a massive significance in architecture. The theme of architecture is more solemn, and Henri Labrouste did it intentionally to reference and counter what he referred to as sober architecture in universities around the area. The Sainte-Geneviève Library is proportional to general lines. It does not look like a classical building, and the facades are monotonous going against the rules of the French architecture of institutions. The Italian Palazzo is the closest resemblance to the exterior of the Sainte-Geneviève Library because of the rectangular shapes and lines (Jiménez-Montano et al. 2017). However, the Sainte-Geneviève Library is less complicated without the Palazzo’s fortress-like proportions, attic store, rusticated base, temple-like apertures, and a prominent upper cornice. Henri Labrouse sought to shy away from classic architectural designs of institutional buildings like schools and libraries.

The exterior of the Sainte-Geneviève Library is plain, and it suggests a form of criticism towards the existing formulas and ideas in the architecture of a library. Henri Labrouste dives into reality by adding a unique touch to the walls through the inscribed names of authors. It is unpredictable of Henri, and it serves as an introduction to a person going to the Sainte-Geneviève Library. When planning for the construction of the library, Henri Labrouste was keen on the matter of fire protection to ensure that the inscription feature was a success. Apart from the inscription, the Sainte-Geneviève Library is like a unique character unifying volume with simplicity (Jiménez-Montano et al. 2017).

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