The four years of war left many marks on the North of France from the extreme violence: trenches, necropolises, destroyed buildings which still can be seen in the contemporary landscape. 44 town halls, 45 churches, 17 schools have been entirely rebuilt identically to the former buildings for some. For others, it was an opportunity for new architectural experimentations. The reconstruction wave which followed the conflict led to the establishment of original, and sometimes unique, architectural forms.
For more information on the website dedicated to this list:
http://reconstruction.cc-sudartois.fr/ (web site in french)
This project was the successful realization of the work carried out on the inventory of public edifices, churches, schools and town halls, led in forty-four districts of the territory, linked with the General Council and coordinated by the South Artois Tourism Office (OTSA). Lucie Bailleul, for the research, and Olivier Joly, for the photographic illustrations, have developed this inventory.
2 visiting tours are suggested, linked with the “Le Joyel” association and the 62 Department.
Walks around Vaulx-Vraucourt (web site in french)
Cycling around Hermies and Rocquigny (web site in french)
After the war, the Artois region was nothing but a vast ruin. The Reconstruction led to a profound revolution in the field of town planning. It was a period of stylistic research under the common denominator of Art Deco, characterized by the recurrence of stylized floral patterns and geometrical forms. Destroyed or mutilated, the towns of the North of France were grounds which were favourable to experimentations. The Art Deco was subject to an absolute passion at the end of the 1920s and at the beginning of the 1930s, especially in the South-Artois area.
In 1918, the North and the East of France were destroyed, yet the Republic had triumphed. In the towns and villages of the South-Artois region, town halls and schools were two symbols that the 3rd Republic wanted to glorify. Having pride of place on the Faidherbe square, Bapaume’s town hall is the work of Eugène Bidard. Completed at the beginning of the 1930s, it was built on the site of the previous town hall, of which the reconstruction dated from the 17th Century. If the whole is not the exact copy of the previous edifice, the architect still wanted to establish an affiliation between the two buildings. The belfry was preserved and the buildings are an inspiration of Flemish architecture, with an association of brick and stone.
During the Reconstruction, the architects favoured three types of materials in order to limit the cost. Therefore, we can find red brick which is typical of the North of France, sometimes used alternately with white porous stone, a reminiscence of the Renaissance and of Flemish baroque architecture. Pink stone was also used in certain villages of the area. Finally, concrete also appeared after the Great War. Indeed, less costly and stronger, it was a great success after the war.
Concerning the church of Rocquigny, the architect, Jean-Louis Sourdeau, showed a particular boldness in the realization of the church tower. The architect drew his inspiration from his contemporaries, Gustave and Auguste Perret, who had worked on the Notre Dame du Raincy church (Seine-Saint-Denis), for the realization of the church tower. The project of the church tower showed great creativity in the architect; he reduced the whole structure to a simple geometrical design.
An identical reconstruction of Saint-Martin’s church was decided by the population. Rebuilt on the same foundation in 1934 by Paul Decaux and Etienne Crevel, the church takes up the previous edifice’s style. However, Saint-Omer’s church, with its geometrical shapes, is very different from the former gothic building. The new sanctuary is composed of a porch and a conical church tower. The Art Deco patterns blossom on the tympanum with lozenges made with bricks, and also inside, on the gallery. As soon as the visitor enters the church, he is struck by the sight of the concrete framework with geometrical forms.
The former edifice was in the enclosure of the old cemetery and was used as a private seigneurial chapel. The church was completely destroyed by mines, as was the whole village. At the end of the war, it was planned that the new edifice would be built at the centre of the village. Jean Pelée De Saint-Maurice suggested an innovative architectural edifice. The presence of the two pepperbox turrets adjoining the bell tower, presents this church as a unique example in the region, calling to mind the medieval fortress but in an interpretation which was very personal to the architect.
The Notre-Dame church of Hermies was rebuilt under the initiative of the architects Paul Decaux and Etienne Crevel. In contrary to the previous church, the new edifice, particularly interesting, has a dome which is composed of a row of 28 white stained-glass windows. Inside, the absence of columns gives the impression of space and volume. The main façade’s tympanum is composed of 6 bas-reliefs representing kneeling angels.