Figuring prominently in the entry lobby of the former Citroen Garage in Lyon is a colorful and impressive steel sculpture of a Stegosaurus, known as Gustave. This beautifully engineered and balanced work of recycled car parts was the result of an unusual series of collaborations in France’s second city, Lyon.
How did this adventure begin?
According to an interview with the sculptor, during the fall of 2014 he was approached to do an artist residency at the Lycee Fernand Forest. The project was to create a structure for the festival “Urban Foods” scheduled for May 2015, and to be in Saint Priest a small municipality to the south of Lyon.
Lycees, are a rough equivalent of American high schools, and the teachers at the lycee became interested in the project and support grew for the idea When the town of Saint Priest saw the plans and site, they agreed to finance the materials.
Gustave weighs 1600 kg, is 8 meters long and 4 meters high, and uses 140 meters of steel tube. Made up of different pieces of car bodies and parts. Ultimately, 50 students learning metalworking, and supervised by 5 teachers worked for several months on the project.
The recycled parts came from a collaboration with Carrosserie Gambetta, located in Fontaines sur Saone. They were enthusiastic about the project and many car doors and hoods, truck doors were assembled. Lardanchet, also had in his stock, 24 Yamaha motorcycle bumpers that were placed on side of the dinosaur’s backbone. Finally, while browsing in the school, he proposed using the work that students made for their BAC pro the year before, which were then destined for scrap. These were turned into the row of plates on Gustave’s back.
Why did Lardanchet choose a stegosaurus? According to the sculptor, “the stegosaurus is probably one of the best known of the dinosaurs, and its silhouette is easily recognizable. It was a friendly, peaceful dinosaur, but sufficiently well equipped and impressive to not be bothered without good reason.”
After travels to several sites in Lyon, the impressive Gustave is now located in the entry lobby of the building formerly known as the Citroen Garage.
The Citroen Garage is a superb example of Art Deco functionalist architecture. Built between 1930 – 1932 by Maurice-Jacques Ravazé, architect of Citroën SA. it is similar to the work done for the large American factories of the time. Of the 20 branches built by André Citroën throughout France, this one on Marseille Street in Lyon is the most monumental. With its 535 meter facade, important corner turrets, and the 6 levels connected by one-way ramps, it is a superb example of the period’s functionalist architecture.
The renovation and redesign of the Citroen building was one of the important architectural projects unveiled in France during 2015. Listed as a historical monument since 1992, this “concrete and glass ship” was completely renovated beginning in 2011.
Andre Gustave Citroen, an early pioneer in the automobile industry, directed the building of this immense structure — 130 meters long and 52 meters wide, containing 6000 square meters of windows and having a surface area of 500 m2 on 5 floors.
Designed by Maurice Jacques Ravaze, who directed Citroen’s architectural design department from 1923 to 1934, it was known as the largest “service station” in the world. The reinforced concrete support pillars face the Rue Marseille and the Rue de l’Universite in Lyon’s 7th district. Two immense rows of windows showed the latest models of the Citroen brand.
In 2011 Peugeot-Citroen sponsored a competition for plans to renovate and rework the immense space. Sud Architectes of Lyon, and Cecile Remond, the architect responsible for French historical monuments, took over the project and acquired the building, becoming the owner of the larger part of the ground floor, and the floors were redesigned for use as offices. Alep Architects and Sud Architectes managed the project. The project maintained the Citroen dealership on the ground floor.
From then on, the project became known as the “New Deal” retaining the creativity and original designs of Maurice-Jacques Ravaze, Jean Prouve and Andre Citroen.
A complex project it required an investment of 33 million euros, the assistance of 22 bureaux d’etudes, the collaboration of the Conservation Regionale des Monuments Historiques, des Services Territoriaux e l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (STAP), the intervention of 8 architects (3 architects from Buildings of France), constant oversight on the construction site of 6 engineers and the “know how” of 250 people.