Surrealist Architecture: Synagogue de Delme in France

Surrealist Architecture: Synagogue de Delme in France

By Diana Budds
Sculpture meets architecture in the surrealist facade of the Synagogue de Delme visitors center in northeastern France.

When Christophe Berdaguer and Marie Péjus, artists based in Paris and Marseilles, talk about their first public commission, a renovated outbuilding at the Synagogue de Delme Contemporary Art Center, located in the Lorraine region of France, it’s on a spectral level. The art center commissioned the pair to revamp its visitors center for its 20th anniversary this year. The 19th-century structure has served as a prison, school, and funeral home. Berdaguer and Péjus—who say they are "interested in ghosts who haunt the history of architecture"—used the structure’s varied past as inspiration for the white biomorphic polystyrene skin they encased around the facade and onto the surrounding lawn. "To us, a [building] is not just a mechanical construction; it’s an aggregate of emotions, perceptions, and memories," the duo says. Although the exterior is rendered in curvaceous high relief, visitors can still spy traces of the original silhouette and roofline—a decision that Berdaguer and Péjus hope will prompt visitors to contemplate the center’s 200-year history and numerous past lives.

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