Author(s): Comte Vollenweider

One step sideways

Although it is often viewed as a constraint, we prefer to consider economy of means as the cradle for new ethics. The latter consists in attention to details and a sort of tenderness for materials and locations. We would like to contribute to the fact that the eye may pierce the materiality of architecture everywhere, in an unexpected relation of proximity. As Gottfried Honegger wrote: “our eyes must imperatively learn to think”.

For us, the quickest way to reach an unbiased architecture is not the straight line. If we are fond of detours, it is neither for purposes of coquetry or in a search of effects. These sidesteps stem from a mode of thinking devoid of a priori that allows us to truly remain at the service of the project.

Every day, we exchange with professionals and challenge habits. We question the product of our hands, like everything that allows the gesture of the artisan or process of the industrial.

Research on materials, their delicate use, and the attention given to junctions all produce a remarkable object. Treated with care, the banal becomes precious, escaping its condition and making sense.

The artisan city of Valbonne

If we mention the architecture of the barn for the project of the artisan city of Valbonne, it is more for its functional qualities than its lines, although we assume its massiveness and implantation mode with the tension between a heavy base and light higher elements. The corrugated sheet roof evokes the roofs of mountain houses. The use that artisans make of their trade – requiring resistance and adaptability – and the economic constraints of this type of works find their solutions here.

Certainly, to quote the title of a Daniel Buren show “A tiger cannot change its stripes”, and we cannot change the lines of a metal sheet. However, we can make do with these lines. In the communal imaginary, corrugated sheet is the material of favelas. For us, it represents beautiful undulations. Placed at the core of a geometric pattern, corrugated sheet has the power to “activate” a surface, participating to a play of light, volume and plans. The alternation between the slopes of roofs turns them into a sea of corrugated steel.

We love the raw materials that require no coating or paint, as they are easy to maintain and long lasting. These materials also boast a plastic presence, a poetic grain with which we work. Concrete brings to the artisan city the imprint of “beech-triplex” put in place in casings. It enters into a dialogue with these same panels of particles used to close up the wooden walls inside workshops. This materiality claws light and gives an additional depth to concrete. It also allows absorbing the inevitable irregularities of a concrete poured in place.

Main topic : Artisan city