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Joan Puig-Pey: My workmen

 

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Redevelopment work at La Valla en Gier

15/01/2013: France - Photo gallery

With the work of restructuring the Hermitage completed, the Commission of the Marist Places, with the approval of the General Council, has undertaken the redevelopment of the house of La Valla. The work has been entrusted to the same team of architects which directed work at the Hermitage. Below you will find the testimony of one of them, Joan Puig-Pey, on the work underway at La Valla.

___________________

La Valla en Gier, Thursday 20 December 2012. Yesterday evening, when I arrived from Barcelona, it was snowing at l’Hermitage. The cold was not too bitter (-1°). Winter begins this morning ; the thermometer shows 1°. Météo France announces fine weather.

LaChristmas is approaching. Today was the last visit of the year. The fine layer of snow covering everything  last night  melts rapidly. The work site need not stop. We can work on the interior. The fire is fed by the remains of old wooden beams. It provides comfort. But if I touch the steel, it burns. That is how cold it is !

Every time I come to the little work site, I feel a special emotion. For the place itself, for the history I know, and for the work itself. But today I am most aware of the workers, my men.

My first greeting is to the young men in process of eating their breakfast. There are only the masons here, since we are at the stage of structure and consolidation. There are not yet any plumbers or electricians (the second stage). Four masons working as manual workers and learning at the side of Christophe, their foreman. They are scarcely twenty years old.
Twenty years !
LaI look at them for some moments in silence… I imagine Marcellin 200 years ago, here himself, in the process of mixing the mortar and looking for stones among his workers…, his young men !

Yes. And I look back to 2 January 1817. When Marcellin and two young men – Jean-Marie Granjon and Jean-Baptiste Audras – the pioneers, start their project. And I see arriving Jean-Claude Audras…
… and Antoine Couturier…
… and Barthélemy Badard
… and Gabriel Rivat…
… and Jean Baptiste Furet…
… and … and

…And some chuckling brings me back to 2012. Mr Architect, when are you going to take our photo ?
I had told them I would take their photos. I want the whole Marist world to know them, or at least their faces. Surprised and moved, one of them said to me : « No architect has ever spoken to me like you, still less taken a photo. »
They are the anonymous faces of the building site. The persons who are « in the kitchen » of the works. And do you know that two of them are brothers ? Just like the two Audras brothers !!!

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Jeremy Flavin, the youngest.
19 years old
Matthieu Flavin,
his brother
Dorian Chatelus
     
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Valentin Bracco Abdel Beldjoudi Amar Tedjar
The two specialist workers are older
 

And the site foreman, Christophe Bracco

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MaristesChristophe is an all-rounder. A gift for this work site. He has long experience in the field of restoration of Property and Historic Buildings. He designs (here the future chimney of the Champagnat room), as well as he cuts natural stone, uses the trowel, prepares the cornices in concrete…

… or checks with his Chef the steel connectors of the flooring.

MaristesAnd there is the Director of Works, Christophe Lamouroux, of the company RANC & GENEVOIS, known by the Brothers of the region of Saint Genis Laval.

As in any family album,  group photos are not lacking !
They are all there, except the foreman, Christophe Bracco, who precisely today is attending a training  cours e.
With them, Brothers Michel Morel and Heribert Pujolàs, representing the Marist Institute.
And the architects : Stéphane Roulleau, Yves Poncet and Joan Puig-Pey.

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In the meeting room of the building site, an unexpected visit : the Mayor of La Valla en Gier, surrounded by Brothers Guy Palandre, Michel Morel, Xavi Giné and Heribert Pujolàs. And the architect M. Joan P.

Monsieur le Maire, Jean-Claude Flachat, pays us a surprise visit this same day to wish us a happy festive season .

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Before leaving, I go up to the second floor. Three days ago, they laid a concrete floor. At present, it is necessary to repair the ceiling. Soon two little rooms will be arranged here for  persons who want to have the experience of spending a day, a night, in solitude, in this privileged place.

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And I slowly approach the open window. I imagine Champagnat, in 1823, looking down the valley and feeling grow within him the strength to take the  second great step of his young  Institute :

The construction of  the Hermitage !
Maristes

___________________
M. Joan Puig-Pey, architect
La Valla en Gier, Thursday 20 December 2012

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