This issue is devoted to the work of French architects Lacaton &Vassal (Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal). In order to fully capture their architectural and urban concerns in one volume, the issue documents their work from 1992-2011 in approximate order.
The unifying theme of their work is in maximizing effect through minimal costs. Special emphasis is placed on the existing environment and available structures, and strategies
that supplement and compliment what is already present are
preferred over those that start from scratch. Additive elements, like greenhouse modules and precast concrete frames, are directly incorporated into design. The motivation is economic as well as ecological always conceiving space through the poetic integration of nature, people, buildings, and landscapes.
I paid a visit to the office of Lacaton & Vassal in the autumn of 2011. While looking through their photographs, I notice that there were hardly any that showed their work immediately after completion. Instead, I find photographs of two distinct phases; of those being built and of those being lived in. The latter is full of life, filled with furniture and personal objects, openly revealing the daily lives of the inhabitants.
I was struck by their response when I asked about this:
Architecture is not defined by specific moments because it
is not simply an object to be looked at. Rather, its existence
depends on its occupation.
Within an economic context where budgetary constraints are
making it more difficult for architects to realize public projects
to their standards, Lacaton & Vassal continues to build for the
enrichment our society and daily lives. No matter how difficult,
their work is proof that it is possible to improve peoples livesthrough the practice of architecture. (a+u)
Translated from Japanese by Michael Sypkens.
Essay: Architecture must be direct, useful, precise, economical,
free, joyful, poetic and cosmopolitan.
Lacaton & Vassal
Low Cost Dwelling, Prototype
D House, Cap Ferret
R House, Keremma
S House, Coutras
Social Housing, Mulhouse
23 Housing Units, Trignac
Ecological Neighborhood, La Vecquerie
Apartment Building, Poitiers
Housing, Petit Maroc
Housing Transformation, La Chesnaie
Transformation of Housing Block, Tour Bois le Prtre
Essay: Fragility, a moment in an open world
Architecture School, Nantes
University Center of Management Sciences, Bordeaux
Exhibition Hall No. 7, Paris Nord Villepinte
Wine Cellar, Embres et Castelmaure
Palais de Tokyo, Contemporary Creation Site (Phase 1)
Palais de Tokyo, Contemporary Creation Site (Phase 2)
Original French Essays