I am thankful to…
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Paolo Freire, Ivan Illich, and Patrick Geddes, George Nakashima, who remains an indispensable visionary... Martin Buber, Dom Helder Camara, Pierre Rabhi, E. F. Schumacher, and in our own field : Louis I. Kahn, Aldo Van Eyck, Kevin Lynch, Christopher Alexander, Giancarlo de Carlo, and, even more closely linked to our work in the Hérault region, the contributions of Alberto Magnaghi: “the urban village”, and of David Mangin's "the franchised city".
We can never forget the incredible craftsmen of yesterday and today, from here and from elsewhere, men that the magazines rarely speak about.. At Montpellier’s courthouse, I insisted on putting up, at the entry, a large plaque with on it more than six hundred names: names of the workers who had worked on the building site. Without them, there would not be creation. This recognition is also a form sharing.
This I believe
We are but travelers "in transit" through an unfinished world to which we have an ethical responsibility of question our own role and to participate in its improvement...
Can we continue to build these prestigious and often out of scale projects without being conscious of the social inequalities that they contribute to increase, like the arrogant towers from Shanghai to Marseille, where in their immediate environment poverty remains.
How is it possible that I have had the privilege and joy of being able to live, to conceive, to share, and to transmit...
We build for the children of today and tomorrow...
With respect to them, I do not wish to participate in the destruction of our environment.
Sharing my involvement...
Being "present" to the world around us
I always designed projects centered on man, his activities, his environment and way of life, often the fruit of an active collaboration and interaction with the inhabitants, students...
It is by building places, not just square meters that you pile up or spread out.
Architecture is capable of creating functional and poetic surroundings that allow activities to develop while helping those inhabiting them to thrive.
I want my spaces to breathe. They reflect the continuous search for the project's meaning.
Parallel to the art of building, I am preoccupied with the way that we relate to our immediate environment, and to the world.
We are the silent witnesses, even while indirectly participating, of the flagrant political, social, and cultural injustices that take place.
Like each one of us, I am aware of my own share of responsibility.
But the places that we build cannot go further than a certain point.They cannot by themselves solve society's problems.
In this context, how do we strengthen and enlarge our commitment?
In answer to this question, in the different projects of my studio, as well as in other areas of concern, I have been continuously committed and engaged in teaching, and in the sharing of knowledge, taking special care to elaborate, use and make known project methodologies.
These preoccupations are reflected in :
▪︎ architectural projects, and particularly those of a participatory nature,
▪︎ interactive experiments in all levels of formal and informal education,
▪︎ socially oriented community activities.
The search for meaning and relevance of the spaces that we design
▪︎ An architecture that is aware of the sensibilities, the daily lives, and histories of its users, the meaning and beauty inherent in details, while attentive to the integration of the projects into the urban fabric: Montpellier's courthouses, Paris and Turin subway lines, the French embassy in Mexico City, individual and collective living spaces, and a recent project in Ahmedabad....
▪︎ A participatory architecture, which is the result of conversations between the inhabitants, economic and environmental constraints, and the architect, using a methodology of mutual attention to one another, of concertation and of participation : Le Buisson Saint-Louis, public rental housing in Gennevilliers and Yzeure…
My preoccupation with education, and one specifically and actively engaged in a territory is always with me.
Strongly inspired by Patrick Geddes and the “militant university”, I have initiated several innovative educational experiments in India :
- 1962 : Co-initiator of the Ahmedabad School of Architecture and creator of the architectural program, which later became CEPT (Center for Environmental Planning and Technology)
- 1966 : Summer Institute in the state of Gujarat
1968-1969 : Sabarmati Workshops "CEPT"
Furthermore, I have initiated several innovative educational experiments in France :
- 1972 : the Cergy-Pontoise interactive program
- 1974 : the Public Architecture and Urbanism workshop in Coupvray and Quincy-Voicin
Raise awareness, teach, question, create
This feeling of responsibility to the general public resulted in 2002 in the creation of a concerned citizen's group "La Manufacture des Paysages" in Octon, in the Hérault district.
The activities are quite varied, such as tree house workshops with young adults, adult education with elected officials, exhibitions, and preliminary city planning proposal like the design criteria of a public square in Lodève…
In 2018, this association became "La Manufacture des Pays" with "l'Atelier de la Main" in Lodève, focusing on the development of middle-schools courtyards.
In order to facilitate exchanges, different mediating languages are used : speech, written words, diagrams, the manipulation of objects, body language and especially the creative use of the hands...
Those who inspire me : exceptional men, in politics, education, philosophy, architecture…
Gandhi, Paolo Freire, E. F. Schumacher, Ivan Illich, Louis I. Kahn, Aldo Van Eyck, Frank Lloyd Wright...