December 5, 2021

Taylor Daily Press

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Lacaton and Vasal: Humanistic Architecture

Lacaton and Vasal: Humanistic Architecture

Overview of a committed approach

For most people, when public spaces are emptied, the problem of poor housing is exacerbated by the global health crisis. The jury said that this international award underscores “the need to create a sense of community, and through their work Anna Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal show how architecture can contribute to this.”

The approach of the French architects proposes a decidedly positive vision: to use and transform the existing, to do something better with it: “The great thing is that we always find a solution.”

On the premise that the modern city is not a blank slate, but an existing complex and confusing environment, the architects’ view is to use what is already there. Thus they sympathize with the legacy of modernity, which aims to condense functionality into the core to free up space around it.

For this “everything” that the programs restrict more and more, they chose to preserve the existing and add space to it by extending the floors with floorboards and increasing the terraces. This is the case for the Bois-le Prêtre building in Paris and then for the Grand Parc district of Bordeaux with Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin.

In short, being an architect!

Respecting the architect’s mission, they carefully carry out their projects and, together with the residents of the building, accurately identify defects. In a slow process, they try to “do more with less,” without losing sight of the essence: creating space, flexibility, freedom to use, letting in more daylight, and providing a beautiful view to enhance well-being. Their approach to each case, starting with the existing housing unit, reflects the classic urban approach and places the resident once again at the center of the design process. By implementing simple and inexpensive solutions, they “price use before thinking about form”. Creating conservatory or bioclimatic gazebos with blackout and thermal blinds to take advantage of natural resources and the lightness of components: polycarbonate, metallic walls, sheer volumes and free layouts in the design are all elements in the service of freedom. To maximize the central material, life. A kind of ‘poetry’ emerges from this strong sense of spaces that ‘make room to create things’.

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Their choice to focus entirely on current issues, quality and cost of life, and sustainable development challenges means that they go further with what already exists to advocate for their humanistic vision of architecture. As architecture lies at the intersection of political, economic, social, and environmental issues, the Lacaton and Vasal approach uses these different aspects as tools for its design.

Share and pass on: ZAC Saint-Vincent-De-Paul

Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal say they are “happy that the 2021 Pritzker Prize brings more publicity and vision to a broadly shared approach, particularly by a younger generation of architects deeply concerned with issues such as the environment, population health – existence and economic issues.” This trend which is most prevalent now is certainly due to the bounty of architects.

Gaëtan Redelsperger belongs to this new generation of architects and has been working for ten years with awardees Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, who are developing their approach to housing and public amenities, with the Dunkirk FRAC or School of Architecture in Nantes.

In 2018, the architectural duo and Gaëtan Redelsperger won, together with Quartus Résidentiel and Habitat & Humanisme, the contract to transform Marcel Lelong’s building at ZAC Saint-Vincent-de-Paul in the heart of Paris, to be completed in 2024 and delivered. “The plan is to preserve the existing hospital building from the 1950s and convert it into a residence, adding 3 to 4 floors in height. Our proposal has been accepted by the developer of ZAC de St-Vincent de Paul, Paris & Métropole aménagement.” Thus, this building will be expanded from The three architects accepted and converted it into a project of 134 homes, of which 66 are free, and 33 are social. Rental homes, 35 homes with joint and multiple liability leases, and 2,600 square meters of commercial space on a total area of ​​12,490 square meters.

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As with any building project, the goal is to provide more space for everyone, more freedom of use, more daylight and a simple and open relationship with the climate. Whether in the existing converted section or in the new elevated section, the apartments will have spacious rooftops and feature large areas of glazing to let in as much daylight as possible and provide good views; The new part will also be equipped with winter gardens and balconies. The intervention on the existing is minimal, without demolition, and therefore responds to an environmentally friendly approach with a frugal use of resources and materials, which sets itself up against the current with the maximum preservation and reuse of current and current potentials. Having winter gardens and a double facade for all the new homes, the bioclimatic addresses the issue of comfort and energy savings, while making the most of the inputs and the exchange with the climate.

Landscape architect Cyril Marlene designed a landscape garden around the building, providing a sustainable place for plants in the center of Paris. In the Agora, in the heart of the building block, a service forum, a garden, and a greenhouse meet as a place of activities and exchanges for residents, then a café, a co-working space and a room for social experiences open to the whole area.

“This project is part of a coordinated development zone,” says Gaëtan Redelsperger (architect). “The rules are strict and digital models of projects must be submitted in the official IFC exchange format.”

So Lelong’s building renovation project was designed in BIM: “With Vectorworks, the design software we use, we can satisfy our own design and drawing requirements as well as those of the client. In my projects, I always start from an idea and the drawing should always be able to represent the idea freely. The most important things For me it is space and light.”

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“The software’s greatest asset is the freedom it provides,” says Redelsberger. “I can draw what I want and how I want it.”

Same goes for Anne and Jean-Philippe: they come up with an idea and need a lot of design freedom, so they draw with Vectorworks.