Laurent Chappis, the Anarchitect

Decorated war hero, creator of Courchevel, UN expert on mountain development, iconoclast. The name Laurent Chappis is perhaps not widely known outside of France and the world of architecture but he practically wrote the rule book on how to design a ski resort. Philippe Revil’s biography traces Chappis career from ski touring around Grenoble in the 1930s to five years in a German PoW camp to the development of Courchevel, an open air laboratory of ideas and finally as the Anarchitect, rebelling against the monster he had helped to create.

anarchitecte laurent chappis

A prophet in his own land, he was consulted by authorities the world over. In Soviet Russia he was once asked his opinion on the new ski resort of Tchimboulac… Chappis replied that their architect did not know “which way was North, the scale of the plan, the snow cover, prevailing wind, the contours”. His interpreter pleaded “would it not be better to just say that everything is okay? why complicate llfe?”

Sure of his beliefs Chappis went on complicating his life. He argued against the over development of the mountains and the pursuit of a a quick dollar. Opinions that cost him valuable contracts. Even his UN position came from Italy were he was much more appreciated than in his native Savoie. As he put it “people came to me for ideas, when we no longer agreed it was better that we part company lest the world think I was only in it for the money.”

Chappis always held the belief that the mountain should come first in any development. Later in his career he elaborated concepts of a 4th and 5th generation of ski resort with lower environmental impact and more emphasis on sustainable development of the mountain. In France, at least, ideas whose time has yet to come.

l’Anarchitecte - Editions Guerin, ISBN :2 911 755 65 0. Book in French

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 17 July, 2005 at 07:15 PM

Philippe Revil, journalist and author of l’Anarchitecte was found dead on Monday (29 August 2005) at the bottom of cliffs in the Savoie. He had fallen some distance.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 01 September, 2005  at 02:08 AM
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