Since 2013, MBL architectes has been working against a conception of architecture as a form a priori. The studio instead formulates projects emerging from a careful process of discovery. Empirical research methods meet theoretical speculation, in order to define a specific framework for each project.
Designed as a continuous layer avoiding elementary divisions, the skatepark is intended as both a structure for the landscape and as a container. Stretched along the old railway tracks which cross the industrial site, the skatepark winds through between trees and shrubs. From the entrance of the site, it is visible by a few shapes that jut out above the vegetation. By its length, it binds buildings in this distended territory. The curved line of the raw concrete welcomes the shadows of the lime trees, poplars, birches and buddleia that hide it. The first sketches consisted in setting up a logic of forms that reacted to the specificities of the terrain and the existing vegetation. The shape is deducted from the interpretation of what was here. The construction explored the possibilities of wet-sprayed concrete. On site, metal frames were curved, assembled and welded. They are the lineaments of the project. The fresh concrete was sprayed directly onto the metal reinforcement, then pulled and smoothed to the desired shapes before setting. The making of the skatepark is largely empirical, mainly the result of the dexterity of the mason-skaters in charge of giving it shape. The construction site is run as a performance that celebrates the encounter of a project and a site.
Somewhere in the Grand Paris, the house rests at the foot of a tower. It marks the entrance to a residence composed of 20 identical semi-detached houses built in the early 1980s. An okoume plywood sliding interior facade hosts two closed beds, a bathroom and a dressing room. A large bay opens onto the enclosed garden, invisible up until now. A vast carpet, conveniently pierced, highlights the existing staircase and the objects around. A curtain wall separates the master bedroom. A couple of mobile desk-closets move around as activities take place. Fast and economical, the project is elaborated with common, available materials. The renovation, without finish, reveals the traces of the previous layout of the house. On the remnants of a nuclear family structure, the project is intended to be a liminal infrastructure, supporting the new idea of a mobile, changing, and adaptable family.
We will be renovating the newly opened Parisian space of Galleria Continua over the coming months. As part of the first exhibition, to accompany the transformation, we have set up temporary offices at the heart of the construction site, with furniture exclusively designed with repurposed material, and are showing the research material we have gathered in the project conception phase.
Plan Libre is an architectural monthly journal produced by Maison de l'Architecture Occitanie-Pyrénnées since 2001. Originally conceived as a professional newsletter and a space for debate for architects, the journal has extended its editorial line beyond its regional borders. Plan Libre wants to be an editorial space for independent architecture. The journal is built around four types of contributions: an investigation, a critique, a project and a portfolio. These different formats allow practicing architects, teachers-researchers, artists and curators to gather around a different theme every month.
The opening to the public of an exhibition space of 1,500sqm initiates the rehabilitation of this former paper factory located in the heart of a vast industrial wasteland. The renovation protocol is a sometimes dense, sometimes sparse collection of new elements. Architecture is here imagined as a vast neutral hum that creates a domain conducive to the cohabitation between industrial remains, artworks and spectators. The requalification of the Moulin wasteland for Galleria Continua continues with the rehabilitation of a new building. The Grande Halle has undergone heavy transformations in the course of its existence in connection with the evolution of machines, its present state is the result of amalgamations of successive architectural writings. The renewed architecture of this site becomes the expression of the meeting of past industrial logics and current artistic typologies, of structural imperatives and the economic conditions of its emergence.
This project is located on the edge of a square, at the future heart of the neighborhood. It articulates two scales: urban and architectural. The first floor is a covered gallery that defines the public space, its orientation. The shops installed on the ground floor enjoy a direct opening on the nearby vegetable garden. A grove has been preserved and becomes part of the green archipelago that will make up this future bit of town. On this retained farmland, three buildings grow vertically. The cost-efficient use of common materials makes it possible to develop larger, more open, adaptable housing. The appearance of the construction is deliberately ordinary and unadorned.
On the main square of the city, an ephemeral hall of 1000sqm is built within three days. Its inclined structure extends the roof, which has become a façade, towards the public space. Covered with a translucent fabric and mirror textile, the stretched surface welcomes the reflections of the changing sky. Inside, the rectilinear space is punctuated by 15 aluminum porticos. Widely open, the inclined hall becomes a place for debate and information on the future of the metropolis. Occupied by a building as wide as itself, the Place du Capitole is for a time invested by the population. In one night, the building is dismantled.
From 1960 to 2030, the exhibition traces the rapid metropolitanization of the city of Toulouse. The research combines urban and demographic data with a field study and a photographic mission that testify to the landscape resulting from this “metropolitan shock”. In order to think about the future of the city, the exhibition brings together a series of architectural and urban examples from the world's metropolises around the themes of housing, transportation, landscape, work spaces and agriculture. A program of conferences combines the interventions of various experts from the fields of geography, landscape and architecture, such as Rem Koolhaas, Jean-Pierre Vassal, Dominique Jakob or Alain Bourdin.
The project consists in the rapid, low-budget transformation of a vast office space in a Haussmann-style building. The consultation carried out with the future users revealed the obsolescence of the space in the face of collaborative work, defined by intense pendulum variations, by a reticence towards closed spaces and a mistrust of overly open spaces, perceived as a disturbance to concentration and confidentiality. The project synthesizes different typologies of work spaces. Assigned, isolated offices. Collective, open spaces. Informal, mobile workstations. The features of the tertiary era (false ceiling, carpet, corridors), are demolished. Partition walls are pierced with bays, to let light and sights pass through. Following the update of what was there came a furnishing arrangement. On the reflecting grid of the floor, rudimentary tables and benches taken from Enzo Mari’s Autoprogettazione, made out of birch plywood, cohabit with industrial furniture. A collection of plants in wheeled cargo cases move around to accommodate users’ needs. Mobile phone booths, vaguely anthropomorphic, are the main protagonists of this landscape of scattered objects.
On a hilly terrain cut by the traces of a Roman road and the bed of a stream, two plots of land have been divided. This administrative reality comes in counterpoint to the geology of the land. The constructible area is positioned on a slope, wooded uphill, and overlooks the humid area irrigated by the stream. Without cutting down any trees or shaping the land, the house leans on the upper part of the site and cantilevers. Built in metal and prefabricated in the workshop, the house is conceived as an autonomous object resting on this complex terrain. The interior revolves around a polygonal common area, whose shape is constrained by all the remaining rooms: bedroom, courtyard, bathroom, office, kitchen, balcony, terrace. Facades are wrapped in a textile of varying density that filters the views on the nearby buildings to the north and the east.
An old farmhouse is transformed into a house. The building is divided into two parts, occupied at different times of year. On cold days, the inhabitants live in the heated, insulated, converted part of the house. On sunny days, they spread out their activities in the rest of the building, left as it is.
"Interiors. Notes and Figures" is the name of the research we conducted on the occasion of the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, and presented in the Belgian pavilion. This study is based on empirical material, made up of thousands of photographs of home interiors, taken throughout Belgium over a period of five months. It attempted to provide a terminology and to illustrate behaviours that, beyond forms, would help to define a specific culture for interior transformations. The architectural project in the pavilion is an initial interpretation of the research findings, by transposing remarkable typologies in the space of the Belgian Pavilion.
The interior is not absolute. As a living space, it provides the framework for life, but is itself affected by the lives led within it – by their necessities and contingencies, routines and circumstances, capabilities and needs, their degree of control or laissez-faire. Occupying a building means interpreting it – adjusting, modifying, transforming, selecting, rejecting. Behind the permanence of façades, an internal metabolism generates a life of forms that is correlated to the diversity of forms of life. A study of domestic interiors provides valuable information on issues that are critical to the future of architecture. This study, led on the occasion of the curation of the Belgian Pavilion for the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, is based on empirical material derived from thousands of photographs of home interiors. They were taken throughout Belgium over a period of five months. The research attempts to provide terminology and illustrate behaviours that, beyond form alone, help to define a specific culture for these transformations.
This research explores the spaces produced by skateboarding culture. Based on a collection of magazines and the writings of Iain Borden, the exhibition attempts to reconstruct all the typologies that skateboarding has shaped. Beyond the skatepark, the examination of skateboarding practices informs the evolution of public space in Western cities. Besides this historical and theoretical approach, a photographic mission recorded existing skateparks on the French territory.
The Brexit Monument is a shape with the size of a continent. An ellipse with a height of three kilometers, linking the shores of Great Britain to those of continental Europe. A continuous white wall, blind and creased, cuts across land and sea. Visible solely on the digital layer of the world, it needs a screen to reveal itself. Monumental yet intangible, it commemorates the seriousness and the inconsequence of the day Britain decided to leave Europe.
Design of a site-specific artwork in collaboration with the artist Yonatan Vinistky for his monographic exhibition at the Tel-Aviv Museum. This sculpture explores the limits between drawing scales, study models, prototyping and the finished object. With no predefined objective, the artwork is an account of the work to date, which will be destroyed after the exhibition, but intended to be reenacted in a new context.
Using the exhibition House For a Superstar (Arata Isozaki, 1973) as a point of departure for the reflection, this exhibition questions the hyper mediatization of architecture. Alongside documents from popular and architectural culture, five agencies were commissioned to design a house for a media personality of their choice. Between political fervor, stylistic enthusiasm and architectural disappointment, the exhibition proposes a peculiar mixture of constructed material and representations, product of a mediated postmodernism, a "Decaffeinated Double Ristretto'', as Charles Jencks liked to call it.
On the edge of a calcareous plateau, facing the Dordogne valley, small groups of old oaks are scattered on a sloping terrain. One should live there without disturbing. The village is on the facing hill, topped by a castle. On this preserved land, the house nestles in the topography. The 37-metre long volume is covered in stones collected on the site.
Small, portable and without foundation, the Stugan house is both a tourist attraction and an everyday home. Designed to be produced in large numbers, the Stugan house is a synthesis between the hedonism of paid vacations and today's ecological concerns. A form of habitat for a joyful degrowth.
Bakelized plywood, usually covering the floor of trucks, is used for the construction of a range of exhibition displays. The mounting of artworks and the fixation of wood panels are made explicitly visible. From the transport to the hanging of the works, the scenography stages the logistics behind the circulation of artworks.
Folies are contemplative landscape devices, concerning singular situations and architectural discipline. These small buildings are territories that allow stylistic experimentation of architectural practices, concepts and multiple rituals. Ruins, grottos, shrines, tents and temples are figures reflecting on the existing architecture, its relation to landscape and its economy. The folies are at the same time critical and anticipatory projects. The exhibition took place at Kanal Centre-Pompidou in Brussels in 2019, in partnership with the CIVA Foundation. It explores new architectural, landscape and literary shapes related to folly parks. Beyond historical fetishism, through a critical mass of projects displayed, this exhibition discloses the subject’s contemporaneity to think the city as an ensemble of emergences.
The architectural, urban and landscape manifestations of this project are based on three objectives intended to ensure the quality and the comfort of these home-ownership units: 100% of the units are south-facing, 100% of the units are open on both sides, and each square meter of living space equals to one square meter of outdoor surface, private or shared. The project, designed in modular wood and prefabricated construction, aims to offer a type of housing that compiles and rearranges the qualities of suburban housing: the presence of nature, the size of the exterior and a feeling of intimacy; with the advantages of collective housing: shared spaces, sociability and reduced impact of the habitat on the environment.
Going through the history of a chosen type of entertainment institution, the nightclubs, this research outlines the genealogy of an experimental architecture that positions light, sound, movement and psychotropic drugs as catalyzers of social and physical space. The book and resulting exhibition span from the end of the 1960s with the construction of the Italian Pippers and the first architectural avant-gardes until the early 2000s with the progressive closure of nightclubs. It is the second part of three exhibitions dedicated to the architecture of entertainment venues. Exhibited architects: Didier Fiuza Faustino, Pietro Derossi, François Dallegret, OMA, Patrick Berger, Leopold Banchini, Daniel Grataloup, Daniel Zamarbide, Nicolas Dorval-Bory, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Andreas Angelidakis, Superstudio.
In 1984, Cornell University in America developed a system in order to measure the precision of images produced by 3D simulation software. This calibration tool works by comparing a real photographed scene and a virtually generated image. The scene is an opaque box, the wall on the right is green, and that on the left is red. The rest of the surfaces are white. From the ceiling a rectangular light illuminates the scene. Two opaque volumes, a cube and a rectangular parallelepiped are placed within this environment. The comparison between the photograph of the model and the computer generated image thus allows for the calibration of several characteristics of illumination: radiosity, specular reflection, diffuse reflection, refraction. The Cornell box and nightclubs share the same programme and a common tool: the simulation of an abstract reality through light. For the creation of the temporary nightclub within the villa Noailles, Nicolas Dorval-Bory (born in 1980), Benjamin Lafore and Sébastien Martinez-Barat (born in 1983) have taken inspiration from the Cornell box, limiting their design to an exploration of luminous phenomena. An existing volume is divided by three coloured bands, red, green, and blue, which each reflect a part of the spectrum. A collection of devices, a stroboscope, ultraviolet and laser lights, emit changing lights which are reflected in a rotating dodecahedron, a simplified version of a disco ball. Three white volumes reflect these beams of light. The space is thus produced via the emission, reflection, and diffusion of light.
Folie, Welcoming Roof is an entrance pavilion located in the courtyard of the Kyoto Art Center. Three roofs are stacked on top of each other. On each of them, curved areas of horizontal wooden slats create opaque surfaces that protect against the rain, while vertical slats filter the sun. Arranged this way, these elements project on the ground a complex shadow map suggesting various uses, depending on the different qualities of light and temperature. As the first inhabitants of this construction, shadows describe changing situations. More than a building with strong and permanent forms, the roofs become filters, proxies compiling striped shadows in various orientations. This elementary device qualifies the space according to the movements of the sun. An architecture whose effects take precedence over its materiality. The pavilion is made of Japanese cedar according to the methods of Japanese carpenters, without foundation and entirely dismountable.
Folie, Templates is a group of pavilions composed of a set of lines that spatially organize communities of objects and communities of individuals. Their form results from the meeting of a system of measure: tatamis, with spaces to be used according to each situation: curved lines. The project explores the notion of kekkai specific to Japanese spatiality which designates forms of thresholds closer to the constructed sign than to the coercive limit. Between foundation and ruins, this infra-architecture reduces its means to emphasize its effects.
Learning Forms is a research, archive and exhibition project of publications produced in the context of project studios within architecture schools. Through these publications, Learning Forms maps the pedagogical practices at work today. The website dedicated to the project constitutes a continuous archive. The collected publications compose a documentary fund archived in the library of the school ENSA Toulouse.
A 19th-century townhouse, La Brigantine is composed of an enclosed garden, a notable facade and a succession of rooms spread over three levels. On the first floor, a light concrete surface organizes the entire floor. Outside, loose forms lead the entrance sequence and arrange the surfaces meant for use and for planting. Inside, extruded forms support and surround selected objects. These areas organize and polarize the floor of the house. Translating the client’s wishes into the program, the curves accompany and choreograph the movements of individuals, the displacement of objects and the territories of plants. White metal structures, contrasting with the now pink facade, generate additional rooms: a pergola and a mezzanine.
At first sight, the viewer is struck by the critical mass of the collection. By placing pieces of different formats and periods in equivalence, the arrangement gives an account of the eclecticism of the collection. A more attentive wandering allows the visitor to grasp the connections, the parallels, the figures chosen by the curator. As Michel Serres indicates in the Five Senses, "to perceive is to stand". The display favors consideration: it offers everything at first glance, but allows an attentive reading of the work to those who sit down, who modify their posture, to the one who takes, with his body, the time of observation. The display is rudimentary in its implementation and explicit in what it proposes: an organized arrangement of works.
The transformation of this industrial space into an artist's live-work space relies on the treatment of the surfaces of the surrounding walls. The explicit composition of the thickness of the wall makes it possible to locally determine the qualities necessary for the considered uses. No more, no less. The project then becomes the superposition and arrangement of several qualities of insulation, rigidity, waterproofing, and finishing on the existing walls. The reflection on the optimal qualification of the vertical surfaces distributes uses and objects. The peripheral surface organizes the space and generates domestic scenes. All the designed furniture are the volumetric doubles of objects of first necessity.
Like a full scale model, L’Outfront is a wooden house whose form explicits the operations that led to its construction. It is the result of a few simple formal manipulations. A pierced vertical surface, repeated at regular intervals, generates facades and interior volumes. The grid is then truncated by the slope of the land and the restraints of urban law. On the northern façade, large bays open onto the garden landscape. The eastern façade, hatched like a cross-section, reveals the five walls of the house. Inside, the repetition of shear-walls articulates spaces, without limiting them. L’Outfront is a legible structure and a strong form that can accommodate unexpected uses. The structure of the project is entirely made of wood. Project nominated for the EU Prize: Mies van der Rohe Award 2015
Like a rock whose potential is opportunely discovered, the Stanzes experiment with the notion of tacit design. Functions are possible, imagined but not specified. Thanks to the indications of their use, to their familiar scale, to their formal intuitions, the Stanzes solicit an active appropriation. They are situated in a temporality beyond use, with the permanence of a landscape feature. Offering nuanced shelters, varied seating postures and diverse modes of sociability, they can be equipped as needed, with wifi screens and interactive terminals, for an enhanced exteriority.