Author: ean-Louis Cohen, Sébastien Charlier, Pierre Geurts, Geoffrey Grulois, Pierre Hebbelinck, Hélène Jannière, Sébastien Martinez Barat
Publisher: Editions Fourre-Tout Liège (2012)
Dimensions (width x length x thickness): 265 x 330 x 60 mm
Language: French & English
From a modest satirical newspaper distributed within the Liège Academy of Fine Arts, architects Émile Parent, Edgard Klutz, Yvon Falise, Paul Fitschy and Albert Tibaux managed to turn L’Équerre magazine, published from 1928 to 1939, into one of the leading committed journals in Belgian architecture and city planning, as it relayed European debates in the inter-war period and became the official mouthpiece of CIAM (International Congresses of Modern Architecture) in Belgium.
The magazine gave voice to the main representatives of Belgian and international Modernism (Victor Bourgeois, Le Corbusier, etc.). Moreover, having understood the cross-disciplinary dimension of architecture, the editors, in close collaboration with the poet and critic Georges Linze, were very keen to open their columns to various expressions of modern art (such as theatre, sculpture and painting). Responsive and pragmatic, the editorial policy supported dialogue between any and all the disciplines likely to contribute to a “better architecture”. Lawyers, educators, political representatives were therefore invited to share their experiences and stimulate the debate on a logical and functional architecture to meet the needs of the “healthy man in a healthy city”. It therefore addressed issues as varied as the place of children in society, the standardization of construction, air pollution or spatial planning.
Because of the place given to international news, the position of its members at the head of the Belgian section of CIAM and especially its regular circulation, this magazine stands out as a clear voice which is quite unique in the concert of Belgian publications devoted to modern architecture. Nowadays, there is also evidence that the magazine was among the most influential publications in Europe during that period.
In addition to the reissue of 107 issues of the magazine as facsimile products to enable the informed reader to peruse it personally and, above all, to perpetuate a wealth of knowledge, the book, which was eight years in the making (since 2004), is complemented by a didactic perspective. Indeed, such critical essays help understand the context, strategies, actors and challenges of a movement whose theories left a lasting impact on the architects of the post-war period. The ultimate goal here was an understanding of this sensitive period of history through an architectural journal and the recognition of modern architecture in Wallonia, which is too often ignored.
The quality of the research conducted by Sébastien Charlier, carefully formatted, illustrated with previously unpublished documents, and fully translated into English, aims to reach a wide audience: fans of Liège’s history and its urban development, Belgian and European researchers, students in architecture and humanities (history, art history, sociology, education, anthropology, etc.), architects and the authors of related projects (urban planners, landscape designers, and so on). By highlighting, in the local Belgian context, international issues specific to the period of recurrent crises that was the 1930s, it also targets non-French-speaking readers who now have, with this reference book, a complementary tool to decode 20th century European history in terms of architecture and urbanism.
A FEW MILESTONES FOR L’ÉQUERRE MAGAZINE AND THE L’ÉQUERRE GROUP
1928 Founding of L’Équerre magazine by a group of students in architecture at the Liège Academy of Fine Arts
1932 “Exposition d’architecture rationnelle et éléments” [Exhibition of Rational Architecture and Elements] in Liège
1933 Subscription to L’Équerre possible from abroad. Showcasing of a minimum dwelling at the “Pour une meilleure architecture” [For a better architecture] exhibition in Liège
1935 Establishment of the L’Équerre Group architectural firm. L’Équerre Group is entrusted with the Secretariat of the CIAM Belgian section
1936 On the roof of the Palais des Beaux-Arts, construction of a model apartment during the Liège exhibition themed “La ville nouvelle – Le logement nouveau” [The New City – New Housing] under the auspices of CIAM. Appointment of Jean Moutschen as Chief City Architect for the City of Liège
1937 Initiation of the study for the Trixhes Plateau at Flémalle-Haute. Appointment of Yvon Falise as Chief Architect for the 1939 International Water Exhibition
1939 Last issue of L’Équerre magazine
1948-1958 Development plan of the City of Liège by the L’Équerre Group
1958 Official opening of the “Palais des Congrès” conference centre designed by the L’Équerre Group
1982 Liquidation of the L’Équerre Group