Lacaton & Vassal

I went to this year’s Annual Architecture Lecture at the Royal Academy, which was given by Jean-Philippe Vassal, one half of the architectural practice, Lacaton & Vassal. I realised that I am familiar with two of their projects: the Palais de Tokyo, where they did a minimal refurbishment, allowing the existing bones of the original 1937 building to provide open and empty spaces which can then be inhabited and freely adapted by artists; and FRAC in Dunkerque, where they provided a mirror image to the existing grandiose ruin in order to double the available space for purposes of artistic performance. They approach the task of housing design in the same spirit: keep what is available; adapt it; provide as much space as possible for the inhabitants to do their own thing, treating architecture as closer to scenography than design, creating sets for people to inhabit, rather than shrinking space down and controlling how it is used.

Very impressive.

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