Paul Virilio



Perhaps one of the last great French intellectuals, Paul Virilio died on 10 September at the age of 86. Strongly influenced by the destruction his home region of Brittany suffered after the Normandy landings (“war was my university,” he said), Virilio had a half conventional and half self-taught education. He graduated from the École des Métiers d’Art, worked with Henri Matisse in the renovation of the stained glass windows of Paris and, after participating as a recruit in the Algerian War of Independence, he studied phenomenology with Merleau-Ponty, which marked his later career as philosopher and urbanist. As a philosopher he was a prolific author who studied phenomenons of contemporary life, such as war, speed, and digitalization. As an urbanist and ‘outsider’ architect he teamed up with Claude Parent, with whom he elaborated the so-called ‘oblique function’ to renew the 1960s organicism with a language that, taking inspiration in bunkers, anticipated deconstruction. Director of the Special School of Architecture in Paris, Virilio was able to reach the general public, which he captivated with his at once rigorous and visionary thought. 

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