Anne Lacaton, architect and co-founder of the Lacaton & Vassal studio, has been awarded an honorary degree by Ramon Llull University (URL) of Barcelona
In her speech, Anne Lacaton explained that after finishing her studies, she went to Niger, in Africa, with her husband Jean Philippe Vassal, to work for five years. There,” said Lacaton, “we discovered another world, another way of thinking, another form of architecture, so alien to what we had learned, more direct, closer to the use, to the climate, more spontaneous. We discovered what the essential means, the economy of gesture and matter, the art and creativity of recycling, the art of economy, the art of improvisation. We discover the meaning of the word ‘inhabit’ as the main value of architecture. This determined our evolution and definitively marked our idea of architecture and our way of working”.
The project Transformation of 530 Dwellings, a social housing revamp in Bordeaux wins Mies van der Rohe Award 2019. The European Union has awarded its annual architecture prize to a renovation of 1960s housing in France by Frédéric Druot Architecture, Lacaton & Vassal Architectes and Christophe Hutin Architecture.
This is an amazing project where demolition was ruled out so the studios instead designed subtle interventions to make the homes brighter, with more outdoor space at every level.
The project consists in the transformation of 3 modernist social housing’s buildings, fully occupied. It is part of the renovation program of the ‘Cité du Grand Parc’ in Bordeaux. Built from the early ’60s, this modernist district counts more than 4000 dwellings. The 3 buildings G, H and I, 10 to 15 floors high, gather 530 dwellings and needed a renovation after the question of their demolition has been ruled out. By their location and their layout, these buildings give a capacity of transforming into beautiful dwellings with qualities and comfort.
The project of transformation starts from the interior of the dwellings, to give new qualities to the dwellings, by investing with precision and care the existing qualities, that should be preserved, and what is missing that must be supplemented. The addition of winter gardens and balconies in the extension of the existing give the opportunity, for each apartment, to enjoy more space, more natural light, more mobility of use and more views.
From the inside, the view on the city of Bordeaux is panoramic and unique, due to the height and to the low topography of the city. It is an extraordinary living situation. While the high-rise buildings for high-class residences are now defined as examples of a responsible housing for the future, the G, H and I buildings offer the opportunity to reach these qualities immediately, in a generous, economic and sustainable way.
The general economy of the project is based on the choice of transforming the existing building without doing important interventions on the existing: the structure, the stairs or the floors and of proceeding by additions and extensions. This approach on the economy makes possible to concentrate the resources on generous extensions that are, for us, the key point to improve in a significant and sustainable way the quality and the dimension of the dwellings.