The Friche de l’Escalette introduces a colourful array of plastic bubbles touched down amid stone ruins, like a set from Star Trek.

Get on your UFO!

The built future optimism of the 1970s can currently be viewed at the “Utopie Plastic” exhibition in Friche de l’Escalette near Marseille.
by Adeline Seidel | 8/29/2017

In the 1970s, the future seemed more daring, more colorful, and more optimistic than today. Everything people dreamed up was simply easygoing and had a certain lightness about it. This is also the case if one considers the mobile houses by designer Jean-Benjamin Maneval and architect Matti Suuronen or the designs by Georges Candilis and Anja Blomstedt. In 1972, the latter two developed the “Hexacube”, a kind of plastic honeycomb consisting of a ceiling and a floor element that when stacked resulted in a room, the “Hexacube”. Depending on your needs, the honeycombs can be extended on all six sides to create complex spatial structures. In 1968, French designer Jean-Benjamin Maneval for the first time presented “Bulle”, a holiday home shaped like a flower. And with his “Futuro House”, Finnish architect Matti Suuronen created a kind of UFO-cum-home, that while not being able to zip through space could be transported quite spectacularly by helicopter to wherever you wanted it to stand. 

The Hexacube (1972) was designed by Georges Candilis (1913-1995) and Anja Blomstedt (b. 1937). Candilis worked at Le Corbusier’s office and was involved in the construction of the Cité Radieuse in Marseilles. He is known for his resort villages at Port-Leucate and Port-Barcarès, built between1964 and 1972 and now listed as historic landmarks.
Candilis also designed a beach-side colony of organic "Hexacube" space cells, which delighted generations of holidaymakers before being dismantled. Luckily, they were saved from annihilation by Clément Cividino, a young antique dealer from Perpignan.

The pavilions have now landed in the industrial wasteland of Friche de l’Escalette nr. Marseille and are on display there until the end of September. They are exhibit and exhibition space rolled into one, as inside the buildings there’s a collection of contemporary plastic furniture on show, including, for example, Maurice Calka’s “Boomerang Desk” (1969), Quasar Khanh’s “Aerospace”, designs by Benoît Ramognino, Wendell Castle’s “Baby Molar Chair” (1971) Eero Aarnio’s “Tomato Divan” (1971) and Wener Zemp’s “Playground” (1968), a prototype made of plastic dyed yellow originally intended as the playground structure for a kindergarten in Zurich. 

The grounds of Friche de l’Escalette nr. Marseille first opened to the public in 2016. The plan is for the exhibitions to focus on lightweight architectures, sculptures and furniture.

“Utopie Plastic - arcitecture - art – furniture”
Until 30. September 2017
Friche de l' Escalette
Route des Goudes, impasse de l'Escalette
13008 Marseilles  

For summer 2018 and exhibition on Jean Prouvé`s “Maison Tropicale de Niamey” is planned. The display will present the building in the state in which Éric Touchaleaume found it in 2000 in Niger.

The "Hexacube" at the exhibition is unique by its colour red and was purchased from a former collaborator of Candilis.
The "Bulle six coques" (1968) by French designer Jean-Benjamin Maneval (1923-1986), launched in 1968. Once an aficionado bought twenty units from a holiday camp at Gripp in the Pyrenees. The exhibition shows two "Bulle" units. It is the only known example with original interior fit-outs. The other, which is little more than a shell, will be fully reconditioned on-site.
Sixty copies were built of the "Futuro House" (1968) by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen (1933-2013). They have skimmed all over the planet where they are jealously guarded by their owners – a motley crew of hardliners in touch via the web, who range from a New Zealand surfer to a Californian billionaire collector of architectural masterworks.
The Friche de l’Escalette not far from Marseilles is slowly developed to a discovery park for sculpture, demountable and light-weight architecture as well as furniture.