Largely destroyed during the Second World War, today Le Havre combines the attractions of a modern, vibrant and busy city.
Le Havre (France) was rebuilt according to the plans of the architect Auguste Perret between 1945 and 1964. Only the town hall and the Church of Saint Joseph (107m high) were personally designed by Auguste Perret. In commending the reconstruction work UNESCO listed the city of Le Havre on 15 July 2005 as a World Heritage Site. This area of 133 hectares is one of the few inscribed contemporary sites in Europe. The architecture of the area is characterized by the use of precast concrete using a system of a modular frame of 6.24 metres and straight lines.
One of the most visitors’ favourite buildings in Le Have is Le Volcan (Volcano). Le Volcan – strikingly shaped cultural centre rises beside Le Havre’s most central dock. It dates from 1982 and was designed by renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. In white painted concrete, it brings great curves into the rectilinear city devised by Perret. The building includes two separate volumes: above, a theatre and a cinema; below a concert hall for modern music.
The Notre Dame and Perrey neighbourhoods are mainly residential and Les Halles is one of the commercial centres of the city. The famous Saint Francis neighbourhood was also rebuilt after 1945 but in a radically different architectural style: the buildings are made of bricks and have pitched slate roofs. Here the visitors can find the restaurant district and the fish market.
In spring 1945, Raoul Dautry of the Ministry of Reconstruction and Urban Development entrusted the project to rebuild the city of Le Havre to Auguste Perret. The city council requested Brunau to form part of the planning team, but subsequently he left a short time later due to creative conflicts with Perret. Perret wanted to make a clean sweep of the old structures and apply the theories of structural classicism. The reconstruction was completed in the mid-1960s. Today, Le Havre is exceptional among many reconstructed cities for its unity and integrity. It combines a reflection of the earlier pattern of the town and its extant historic structures with the new ideas of town planning and construction technology.
UNESCO declared the city centre of Le Havre a World Heritage Site on 15 July 2005 honouring the “innovative utilisation of concrete’s potential”. The 133-hectare space that represented, according to UNESCO, “an exceptional example of architecture and town planning of the post-war era,” is one of the rare contemporary World Heritage Sites in Europe. Le Havre combines the attractions of a modern, vibrant and busy city. After these great reconstructions, the city attracts about 300,000 visitors per year.