At odds with soothing platitudes, the office of Naud & Poux has never sought a style, but rather precision. Their disciplined practice is exemplified notably by their work on typologies long held in contempt by the profession, and in particular residences for elderly. Thanks to architects like Naud & Poux, these institutions criticised for their lack of means have regained a hitherto undreamt-of status.
In the shadow of residential towers and at the edge of ‘Chinatown’ in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, in a ‘black & white’ office, Elizabeth Naud and Luc Poux face each other on the white side. They call each other out, question each other, seek each other out. “We are interchangeable,” they say. A large conference table occupies the black side, upon which are strewn some piles of paper and architecture magazines with one lying open. The open pages display for the indiscreet gaze two fashion engravings… black & white, of course! “Babeth, the pumpkin caved in!,” Luc Poux blurts out. A coded message? “Private joke,” they say, in a language they gleefully pepper with anglicisms. As the FIAC is in full swing in Paris, Yayoi Kusama’s ephemeral installation resembling a pumpkin decorated with polka dots had indeed collapsed, much to the chagrin of the architects. It may very well be the only clue as to their sources of inspiration. What nourishes their work? They won’t say and won’t show. On their office walls, not a single image in sight. Not even a photograph of their projects. Naud & Poux associates appear to be free of fetishisms. These two architects seem to be as detached as as they are appealing and they are most assuredly faithful.
Their first meeting, in 1990, happened as if “served on a platter”. Both working as freelances, they shared an entire floor in a building on Rue Froment in the 11th arrondissement of the capital. Luc Poux, after working in the offices of Renzo Piano, Francis Soler & Bertrand Bonnier followed by Dusapin Leclercq, was leading the life of a freelancer. Elisabeth Naud, after five years spent at the Beaux-Arts reconnecting with painting, continued thereafter with the André Bruyère’s Atelier and the office of Georges Pencréac’h. “Luc is very much focused on architecture. I am too, but my heart is always leaning towards art”, she asserts, illustrating their complementarity. And what about a more recent past? “We were just now wandering around the Place des Vosges looking for proportions, and a possible regulating layout”. “We are happy working differently”, is their answer to the look of astonishment caused by the oddity of this declaration. “Every project has its own style!”, they add provocatively.
Read the full article by Jean-Philippe Hugron in AA 435th issue – Getting old – available in our online store.