Anne Lacaton; Jean Philippe Vassal
Lacaton & Vassal dig deep into each project to find a new understanding, a way to release latent, undiscovered components, so that each project is refreshingly inventive, simultaneously joyful and serious. Their work is consistent and surprising. Consistent in the fact that their values are laid bare in each new proposal; surprising in that each new project is totally radical. Describing the process for an early house project as “…hoping to make the beautiful and fragile site in the pine forest by the sea, not worse than before, if possible better”, theirs is a sort of matter-a-fact honesty, twinned with absolute intellectual rigour. A generous ramp in the école nationale supérieure d’architecture joins two new public spaces, linking the city to the sky. An abandoned building in Paris is injected with life, as their refurbishment transforms it. For Lacaton & Vassal, 1960’s and 1970’s buildings are not failures of history. Researching their strengths, avoiding demolition, transformations change lives. For them, generosity of space, freedom of use and economy are inseparable values. Their freespace is the one that does not cost anything and yet it is essential. It changes everything: use, relationships, and climate. Masters of freespace, they have been dealing with this Biennale Architettura theme all their lives.