Les Caryatides: A Masterful Fusion of Art and Architecture

June 7, 2024



Albert Aycardo

Manuel Nùñez Yanowsky adds a sculptural touch to a residential complex in Villaroy, France. Les Caryatides features classical statues against a backdrop of modernist forms. It reflects on the cultural heritage of Paris as it infuses new developments with a time-tested twist. 

Drawing from Classical Antiquity 

Drawing from design practices of ancient times, a caryatid is a sculpted female figure that acts as structural support for buildings. This motif returned to prominence during the European Renaissance period and was deeper ingrained into other architectural features (Ex. Fireplace, doors, etc.).

Les Caryatides draws upon this design technique with a new perspective. Yanowsky’s previous projects, such as the Hotel de Police project in Paris, reflects his acumen in working in statues into modern structures. Commissioned by Logement Francais cie, the designer’s objective was to design a structure that would add an artistic touch to the area. 

Yanowsky skillfully proportions the structure in response to its immediate vicinity. Each caryatid establishes a strong presence as they strategically take advantage of the corner lot.  Directly opposite as well is the Renault Technocentre, a leading automotive R&D center in Europe. 

Images of Aphrodite

The  building itself features a rectilinear form typical of the International Style of architecture. Architectonic concrete clads the exterior with solidity and durability. Large windows, balconies, and openings, especially in the lower floors, overlook the inner garden. Contextually, the building itself appears to set itself back quite extensively from the street. It makes room for the grandeur of the sculptures to be fully appreciated. 

Les Caryatides features 18 magnificent caryatids patterned from the iconic Venus de Milo. These statues appear to carry the weight of the building on their shoulders. Artisans meticulously crafted them from resin and color matched it to the ile de France stone. 

The raw and industrial aesthetic of the concrete juxtaposes against the refined elegance of the resin sculptures. It captivates with its interplay of textures and forms of workmanship. The attention to detail involved goes to show how architecture can fit in a component of high art.   

How Art Can Support Architecture

The design clearly showcases how art and architecture can unite in symbiosis. Les Caryatides brings together these two distinct aesthetics, classical and modernist, in dialogue with its locality. The utilization of art forms and the potential for architecture to become a work of art in itself. 

Read more: The Heart of an Artist: Who is Jefrë

Photo credit: GIAIME MELONI

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