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Roland Simounet

Paris, France
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Roland Simounet (31 Aug 1927 - died in Paris, 1996) was a French architect known primarily for his design of the Musee Picasso in Paris and the LaM in Villeneuve d'Ascq.

Simounet studied architecture in Paris and then returned to his native Algeria where he opened an office in 1952. His first major work, the emergency cite de transit Djenan el-Hassan (1956-8), reflected his concern with the eradication of slum housing; its cellular construction, with individual vaulted roofs, echoed local vernacular architectural forms. In 1958 he was appointed to plan the new city of Thamugadi, which borders the famous Roman ruins of Timgad. After the War of Independence, Simounet moved to Paris (1963), but many of his works continued to address the problems of design for warm climates through the suitable expression of materials, massing and openings; examples include the student housing (1962-70) for the University of Tananarive, Madagascar, and a series of holiday homes in Corsica.

Simounet became one of the most prolific museum builders in France in the 1970s and 1980s. His new buildings for the Musee de la Prehistoire de l'Ile-de-France (1975-9), Nemours, and the Musee d'Art Moderne du Nord (1978-83), Villeneuve d'Ascq, reveal a careful orchestration of natural lighting and details to enhance the individual display of works of art. He also won the limited competition for the conversion of the 17th-century Hotel Sale in the Marais district of Paris into the Musee Picasso (1976-85); the austere and luminous quality of the white-washed walls and pristine volumes was generally acknowledged to be the perfect showcase for Picasso's personal collection. In Saint-Denis he designed some low-cost housing (1983) in the shadow of the abbey; arranged around small courtyards, it alluded to the historic fortifications. The same parti was used in the les Fongeres residential complex (1987-91) facing the Parc Citroen in Paris.

Paris, France