Is there a French school in contemporary architecture? L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, in its issue no. 412 – out on May 13th – decided to explore this question by asking 10 international journalists and critics to share their vision of the French scene.
Which 21st-century buildings are emblematic of France and French know-how? Such was the invitation launched by AA to 10 architecture journalists and critics to create a panorama of France “seen from afar”. Answers flowed in with, at the top of the list, social housing, including the transformation of 530 units in Bordeaux’s Grand Parc district (Lacaton & Vassal, Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin), an operation presented by Oliver Wainwright, architecture critic of The Guardian. Among the projects, some were chosen for their exemplarity (the MRI of Caen by Bruther raised the enthusiasm of Argentinian magazine PLOT) and some because they express a specifically French urban trend (Lyon-Confluence seen by Bauwelt’s editor Sebastian Redecke). The question of context, which has become a foil as much as a component of the project, is explored in a survey conducted by Jean-Philippe Hugron with different generations of French architects. Among them are ardent defenders of local architecture which has eschewed any neo-regionalist inclination, as Olivier Namias describes it. A territorial wealth that comprises one of the advantages motivating foreign architects who settle in France, according to an article written by Catherine Sabbah.
In addition to this feature, AA, chose to draw up the portrait of the architect Lina Ghotmeh, cofounder of the DGT office, winner of the “Réinventer Paris” tender for innovative projects and architect of the Estonian National Museum. An exemplary career, in which the act of building emerges from an “archeological” approach. There are several ways to build a city, and one of them is also done through destruction, as the architect Jérôme Brunet stresses in “Point de vue”.
In “Regards”, the magazine’s feature open to parallel disciplines, Klaas de Rycke, head of the engineering firm Bollinger + Grohmann in France, points out the interest that this company has in simple structures as well as more complex constructions. “Retour” showcases the view of photographer Nic Lehoux on the extension designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop of the renowned Kimbell Art Museum by Louis Kahn. In “Design”, the author of “Charles and Ray Eames”, takes another look at the approach of this remarkable and unusual couple who crossed disciplinary borders by mixing, in their work, design, graphics, architecture and film. The “Art” section, deciphers the creation processes of the artists Ulla Van Brandeburg and Bertrand Lamarche.
Last, the “Carnet de Tendances” presents the newest products in façades and double skins.