Jacques Rougerie, the dreamy “mérien” architect, energized by the “desire and courage” of youth

I like to say that in my 20s I closed the door on my age” laughingly, he recognizes Jacques Rougerie and talks about his past and future life. The Pope of naval architects, who likes to describe himself as a “merian” – a cousin of sailors and a distant cousin of Earth – is pleased with the growing awareness of climate and water issues, especially among young people, which he has discovered through his research. Foundation. Meeting with this “extremely pragmatic big dreamer” who had engraved it

In the heart of the sword from the Academy of Fine Arts “The fate of future civilizations will be born from the ocean.” He said he didn’t want to be an academic.

A foundation for achieving what is no longer a comic book

That evening, the luxurious grand hall of the Institut de France was packed. A long way from the FIFA World Cup semi-final between the Blues and Morocco about to begin. Under the statues, busts and portraits of Pierre Lescot, Charles Le Brun or D’Alembert,

Jacques Rougerie Foundation let them give their rewards. with the participation of the Egyptian ambassador to France and a representative of the Chinese embassy. Architect Dominique Perrault, president of the jury, says that with the guidance of the 77-year-old project manager as well as his wife Sophie, he is passing a milestone.Jacques Rougerie, the sea, etc., space, a few years ago was still a utopia. Today, we are in projects that talk about the near future. For example, we won an award for a project aimed at raising rivers. We’re not in comics!

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The architect-oceanographer and his international competition inspired: more than 11,000 projects from 150 countries since the foundation was created in 2009. To live, to observe, to take care of the sea, of course, according to what already exists.

Cover of the 1974 review Architecture d’Aujourd’hui. And living on Earth and in space, like Spartan Space’s ambitions

Peter Weiss2020 Distinguished: “was for

Eurohab concept of lunar habitation. Once placed on the surface, it will open, inflate and accommodate astronauts who will use it as a bit of a base camp. says the Marseille-based entrepreneur. This award really opened doors for us, especially for the World Expo in Dubai. For me, Jacques Rougerie is a role model. His career is incredible. He is an inspiration and a friend who has helped us in this adventure and other projects..”

Jacques Rougerie praises the energy of this youth: “I see the desire and courage to find a solution. This young man wants to move on, he doesn’t want to be told it’s over. They tell him a lot. He is more aware of current issues and threats than our generation, or even your generation. These young people really have more feet on the ground than you think, but above all they have a desire to act, find solutions and believe in them.

Major shakeups of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and World of Silence

A few days later, a longer meeting and this time with Jacques Ruger in the Seine. On board his barge in front of the National Assembly, always on the move but very accessible, the “mérien” is happy to look into the lives and futures of a thousand.

The child of a mathematician and a biogeographer, he grew up in Abidjan, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, almost victorious. Rescued by fishermen, he tells of a beautiful youth, “because I was in Africa. I love Africa, I love nature, I love biodiversity. I was right there with my parents in virgin forests and lagoons. I was at the edge of the beach with this big swell that washed up on the beach. There was something powerful, unusual. Then I had a special feeling with the African people, which I still feel“. His scientific parents and his father’s friends, Theodore Monod, Paul-Emile Victor, among others, opened him up to the world and its discovery. Not forgetting the main shock of 20,000 leagues under the sea at the age of 10 and the silence of Le Monde, the following year Cousteau: “I had a desire to participate from an early age. I was amazed when I saw Gagarin go to space on TV. I was impressed when I saw Cousteau build his first underwater houses. Jules Verne captivated me with Captain Nemo. The novel “Earth to the Moon” fascinated me. I had the chance to experience this attraction, my existence, my work as a builder, an architect.“.

Life under the sea painting by Jacques Rougerie in 1975.
Life under the sea painting by Jacques Rougerie in 1975.

© Getty
– API / Gamma-Rapho

And the Costa Armorican from Locquemeau summarizes the rest in a few steps: “Then I dreamed of cars to go further. Some of them, for example, Galathée, my first underwater house in Japan, Hippocampa in Mexico, etc. I joined the world record under the sea in an underwater house (71 days) with the Americans. I took a parabolic flight. And I want to keep dreaming.

[Le film ci-dessous, L’oeil des mers, est mené par l’acteur Pierre Richard, qui a vécu dans une péniche voisine de celle de Jacques Rougerie. Ils partiront ensemble à bord de l’Aquaspace, un trimaran à coque transparente qui permettait d’observer la faune et la flore marine.]

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His main SeaOrbiter project was restarted, but without definitive underwater life in mind

The CMA CGM group is a major contributor to this ongoing dream. After the One Ocean Summit in Brest last February, the shipowner relaunched Jacques Ruger’s emblematic project: the SeaOrbiter, “it’s a bit of a synthesis of all this research and all these achievements and experiences that I’ve been able to do under the sea.”. Designed with oceanographer Jacques Piccard and astronaut Jean-Loup Crétien, this vertical exploration ship and huge oceanographic laboratory lay dormant for several years due to lack of funds. A kind of semi-submersible, nomadic and autonomous seahorse with a total height of about 60 m, this international ocean station is now expected in 2025-2026, when investments in the blue economy increase.

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At a time when Elon Musk intends to colonize Mars, the designer of the Oceanopolis and Nausicaa aquariums does not envision the same underwater scheme: “Living in the sea, living under the sea, yes. But definitely not. I’ve had 13 experiences with medium to long-term underwater habitats, which are not available to everyone. From a physiological point of view, it is not so simple. So maybe I lack imagination, utopia, vision, but I can’t imagine it. But maybe the present generation can imagine it, and maybe a hundred years from now we’ll be saying, “Rugerie was bullshitting, why not!

While waiting to find out what the future holds, light architect Joseph Kessel, who is also working on the marina for the 2024 Olympics, shines when a majestic swan appears on the Seine. In the name of the situation, just before the passage of the barge: “Songe”!

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