Incubators: from the Generic to the Everyday

Richard Scoffier 

The architecture of Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal takes the notion of comfort, one of the essential ideas of the Modern Movement, to its last consequences. Outside the scope of formalism, their works present themselves as devices that generate neutral atmospheres, incubators able to harbor and even anticipate several possibilities.

From the outside, the projects often look like simple warehouses or generic structures sometimes adorned with plants or flowers. At a first glance, it is difficult to guess what the Latapie House is, sitting as it does, without provocation, as a hangar on a residential street of Floirac. Farther away, in Bordeaux, the Management Science Building, with its balconies and well-kept rose trees, looks rather residential. In Grenoble, the bougainvilleas that appear behind a fine polycarbonate membrane dismiss any hypothesis…

On the contrary, the interiors never cease to distil an intense emotion, not the type of aesthetic commotion that the play of volumes under light that Le Corbusier liked so much can bring about, but another type of emotion, equally meaningful. In Mulhouse, in one of the apartments of the Cité Manifeste whose rooms are all connected to form a spatial continuum, or when accessing the large glass wall that opens up on the last floor of Neppert gardens, the visitor is submerged in a sort of narcosis. It is a sensation that a building of a different kind also produces, the Nantes School of Architecture, whose spaces, somber or lit, high or low, flat or oblique, offer those who use them, without restrictions, many ways of occupying, living or inhabiting the space... [+]

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