© Julien Lanoo
© Sophie Delhay Architecte

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Sophie Delhay, building from inside out

An architectural approach inspired by Oulipian principles? Born in Lyon in 1974, Sophie Delhay has embraced the founding paradox of Oulipo: from constraint and its reproduction come originality and freedom. And she has adapted this approach to an area she masters: social housing.

Outwardly, Sophie Delhay’s architecture is a petition for geometric patterns, squares in particular. But only outwardly. Because with her the infinite repetition of the same thing generates a variety of compositions, much in the same way as a Sol LeWitt series. And above all, eminently social. “These days I can only work with social housing landlords.” In the office shared with fellow architects BFV Architectes, the high-ceilinged space almost deserted that day because of a general transport strike, Sophie Delhay explains, “I have just begun working with developers, but it is true that because housing organisations manage their own properties, they are responsible for the way their buildings age and are therefore prepared to put money into that which, in appearance, is expensive, that is to say questions of use rather than cosmetics.” A species of housing threatened with extinction? The architect is only too aware of this, hence the recent collaborations with developers. “I don’t make a distinction between tenants and landlords,” Delhay clarifies.

Read more of Sophie Delhay’s portrait in AA’s 433rd issue – Social housing, a French exceptionalism? – available in our online store.

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