Observing the transformation of the world. A modern architect in the Alpine pastures
The 20th century marked the beginning of the massive transformation of mountain lifestyles. The architects took this opportunity to extend their experimental territories to the Alps. The French architect Albert Laprade had a very different approach. Having arrived in Haute-Savoie in the mid-1920s to spend his holidays, he gradually bought the Charousse mountain pasture in the village of Les Houches (Haute-Savoie, France). He transformed it into a family resort by including some cottages of modern comfort, focusing on preserving the landscape structures of the place. This article reviews this particular approach in the journey of an architect who, moreover, builds in a “modern” style. By questioning the tools he mobilizes from his pasture, we will see how Albert Laprade implements an active observation of the territory. From photography to the collection of objects, it brings together the traces of changing traditional lifestyles. But without turning into the past, he works to promote on the national architectural scene the achievements that are fully anchored in the present life, the architects who build the “climate stations” in the mountains. Then, the Alps become a timeless setting, an observation post from which the architect seems to be able to withdraw to evaluate the modern world.