Material Skins

Amale Andraos 

I first encountered LAN in a book, sometime in 2014. The book was the practice’s first monograph, Traces, and as I slowly made my way through its pages, I was struck by the experience of their architectural project. The book itself was an elegant and weighty object, a fresh departure from the glossy books that tended to emerge around that time. There was a sense of restraint and control and a fearlessness about breaking that order. Steadily alternating between black and white pages, between projects and writing, research and reflections, the book revealed the contingencies of everyday practice. It proposed a way of inhabiting LAN’s work along a path – departing from and arriving at ideas big and small, disciplinary and personal. LAN had already built some of the seminal projects around which its reputation in Europe and beyond would resonate: the rue Pajol student residence in Paris’ 18th arrondissement (2007-2011); the EDF archives in Bure, France (2007-2011); the Neue Hamburger Terrassen in Germany (2008-2013); and the gymnasium and public square in Chelles, outside Paris (2008-2012). Traces, however, registered these projects alongside the messy process of their making...

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