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Lacaton & Vassal in Bordeaux

Second Life


The revamp of housing estates erected during the developmentalism of the 1950s and 1960s is one of the major problems that European cities are now having to deal with. It is a problem that, if addressed with a combination of talent and common sense, potentially leads to interventions that are not just necessary, but even interesting. A case in point is the transformation of three blocks of 530 dwellings carried out in Bordeaux by Lacaton & Vassal, Frédéric Druot, and Christophe Hutin (see Arquitectura Viva 202), which has yielded a solution that is notable for its energy efficiency, functional generosity, and urban decorum. Presided by Dorte Mandrup, the jury of the biennial Mies van der Rohe Award (aka the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture) chose this French refurbishment over four other projects that made it to the finals, among them the Plasencia Auditorium and Congress Center by Selgascano.

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