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Early years and education
Houdin grew up in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, where his father was the director of a construction company. As a small boy, he spent his spare time on construction sites while his mother, who was a doctor, cared for her patients in a bush dispensary. His interest in building and construction grew out of this first period of his life.
Back in Paris, after the baccalauréat, he enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts to study architecture. After obtaining his diploma in 1976, he set up as an independent architect, a profession that he would follow for twenty years. He participated in the construction of a large number of residential and office buildings in and around Paris. At the same time, with his wife Michelle and a friend of his, he opened an avant-garde art gallery and salon (“Les Enfants Gâtés”), which over a period of ten years supported scores of young artists, and which became a centre for the arts in Paris at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s.
Pyramid construction theory
In 1999 Houdin's father, a retired civil engineer, started to develop the idea that the pyramids had been built from the inside. Jean-Pierre Houdin, using advanced 3D modelling technology, helped him identify a construction anomaly which they baptised “the spiral structure”. It looked exactly like a ramp built inside the pyramid which could have played a part in its construction. In 2003, his father created the Association of the Construction of the Great Pyramid (ACGP) in order to promote the project. This association enabled him to meet a number of experts.
Calculating the theory
In 2005, Mehdi Tayoubi and Richard Breitner from Dassault Systèmes invited him to join a new sponsorship programme “Passion For Innovation”. Together, they decided to examine the theory in the light of Dassault Systèmes’ industrial and scientific 3D solutions. Using software applications such as CATIA to reconstitute the site of this gigantic construction in three dimensions allowed them to test in real-time whether such an approach was plausible. In order to explain and communicate it, Tayoubi and his team used 3D technology as a teaching medium and proposed an interactive voyage through time in three dimensions, both on the giant screen of La Géode (a famous hemispheric theater in Paris), and on the Internet. They transformed this theater into the biggest Virtual Reality center of the world.
The same year Houdin, the Egyptologist Bob Brier, Tayoubi and Breitner with a team of engineers of Dassault Systèmes decided to analyse the King’s Chamber cracks with software normally used by industrial corporations to simulate the behaviour of their products in operation and to detect any structural weaknesses in order to solve problems as early as the design phase (SIMULIA). The team concluded that the pyramid’s architect, Hemiunu, concerned that the cracks imperiled the whole structure, cut a tunnel into a sealed space above the burial chamber to assess the damage, and filled the cracks with plaster as a “tell-tale” that would indicate if they were widening. The beams held and the pyramid was completed. The existence of the cracks in the burial chamber beams has been known since the 1880s, but the team is the first to put forward a hypothesis about what caused them and when and to use such a methodology with 3D industrial software in Egyptology.
- Khufu: The Secrets Behind the Building of the Great Pyramid by Jean-Pierre Houdin, ISBN 978-977-17-3061-3, Farid Atiya Press, 2006.
- The Secret of the Great Pyramid: How One Man's Obsession Led to the Solution of Ancient Egypt's Greatest Mystery by Bob Brier and Jean-Pierre Houdin, ISBN 978-0-06-165552-4, Collins, 2008.
- Brian Handwerk (November 14, 2008). "Great Pyramid Mystery to Be Solved by Hidden Room". National Geographic. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
- Bob Brier (May–June 2007). "How to Build a Pyramid". Archaeology. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
- Dan Vergano (May 17, 2007). "Scientists ramp up for pyramid theory". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
- Khufu Revealed Jean-Pierre Houdin's theory step by step in real-time 3D
- Smithsonian article Monumental Shift
- Jean-Pierre Houdin association ACGP