LAN architecture has participated in this year’s venice architecture biennale in response to the theme ‘reporting from the front’. the french practice showcased its approach in utilizing architecture for a better quality of life and for developing answers to the social, ecological and economic challenges of the 21st century. ultimately questioning: what went wrong? and how do architects correct these mistakes?

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intricately laser cut models show silhouettes of people using the space in many different ways
image © julien lanoo

 

 

 

titled ‘urban renovation of lormont génicart district + 79 collective housing units in bègles’, LAN architecture chose to present two of their own projects in the central pavilion: both realized schemes deal with similar issues facing society as those expressed in the suggested guidelines and start from opposite ends of the spectrum: the first case is the tabula rasa where the starting point is a razed area where all buildings were demolished. the second case revolves around recycling, an intervention in the already existing that enhances what is there instead of replacing it. the ‘carré lumière’ residence in bègles and the urban renovation of the génicart district in lormont can be viewed in detail alongside a collection of photographs and large scale models.

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the bègles project can be viewed in detail as an intricate scale model
image © julien lanoo

 

 

 

bègles: imagining a space of possibilities

 

 

‘this project demonstrates how absurd the economics of building architecture has become. begles was built at a cost of 1,000 € per m², in full knowledge that the m² of the loggias are not factored in. this is much below the current price in this region, and at twice the surface area. to do this, beyond all the rationalization, prefabrication, budget control and management, and a certain architectural sobriety, we cut out all the middlemen, the service economy. this means that the habitats go from the person who builds to the person who buys with as few steps in between as possible. the formal part, which was implemented in function of the urban planning requirements, also allowed us to use a hybrid climatic model that corresponds to the climate of this part of france. the bio-climatic design is halfway between the heavily insulated nordic model and mediterranean patio-style architecture. it’s based on the principle of variable compactness, which introduces the notion of the housing’s adaptability to the rhythm of the seasons or even of the day. everyone can use their outdoor space as a windbreak, a greenhouse, or, to the contrary, as a cooling unit. we call this inter-seasonal architecture.’ – LAN architecture

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‘carré lumière’ in bègles, a suburb of bordeaux
image © julien lanoo

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the exhibit is located in the central pavilion at the giardini
image © julien lanoo

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urban renovation of the génicart district in lormont
image © julien lanoo

 

 

 

lormont: what shall we do about ‘large ensembles?’

 

 

the génicart district is experiencing an urban renewal. consisting primarily of collective and social housing, it accommodates roughly 10,500 people and 50% of lormont’s population. the program of this ambitious urban and social renovation project is organized around four different residences. the treatment of the façade and the expansion of the interior space of the st. hilaire towers is the focal point of intervention. housing units are gradually distinguished from one another, as public spaces follows suit. through the use of pathways and a more progressive hierarchy of public and private, the presence of unused collective space is reduced.

 

 

‘the project took advantage of every opportunity provided by the need to intervene on the buildings in this neighborhood. the overall strategy was to render new housing blocks more visible by using a more individualized architectural treatment while retaining a more public, open, green, landscaped approach by fashioning new green spaces. this has totally transformed the neighborhood. from residence to housing blocks, from no man’s land to urban parks the buildings have been reconfigured as identifiable entities… this project tries to restore identity and especially a sense of pride. it was conducted while the site was occupied. the génicart neighborhood represents only 10% of the town of lormont’s surface area, but it houses 50% of its population, approximately 10,500 inhabitants. everyone was informed, and everyone had an opportunity in one way or another to participate in this process. the challenge at the outset was to gain their trust and then to mobilize their energies so that they would experience their neighborhood as a special, unique place, not as just another cité.’LAN architecture

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architect umberto napolitano of LAN architecture at the venice biennale
read our interview with founders of LAN here
image © designboom

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the principle underlying LAN’s approach was that of stacking containers
image © julien lanoo

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image © julien lanoo

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image © julien lanoo

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image © julien lanoo

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image © julien lanoo

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