Breeze blocks #02
April 1999

1. “the stake of the theory is today a total redefinition in the manner of making projects, which I identify with the action”.

Nelson, Nitzschke, Eileen Gray, Proven, Renaudie interest me because they resound with the present. Architecture, like other knowledge, thus philosophy, is a cumulative activity, it structure and transforms its concepts. I do not believe naturally in the architect-hero, antiquated clone increasingly paler which reappears with each generation. To produce a new architecture, it is to know in which state its predecessors, whatever the period, left the question. Architecture that we make opposes to the amnesia of the system of the mode [ by ] a continuous transformation. Our projects are initially a reasoning, a manner of deciphering and of generating. The stake of the theory is today a total redefinition in the manner of making projects, which I identify with the action. Structure like action: architecture, giving up its aesthetic, plastic and formal tradition (or gesticulatory), finds an effectiveness.
In other words, we lead a manner of “operational research”.

2. “It is a question of making fork the story, to create a new situation”

The irrepressible renewal of the quantity of the products leads to a formal invention to which the architecture, whose programs moreover evolved/moved little since the Fifties (the invention of the shopping mall), cannot claim. Indeed, without new external request, [ there does not exist ] of appearance of form which carries its need. Also, the real world – what occurs in our environment is it much more powerful-innovating that us. The architect as the designer is led here to develop stories, fictions, to multiply there forms of joinings or appropriations of objects or sequences which tell the artificial present of our landscapes.
We work on the modification of the story of the places such as they are, it acts to make fork the story, to create a new situation.

3. “the current Utopia, it is that of reality”

Since the Fifties, architecture will have consumed the Utopia. With Radical Architecture that one holds, following here the analyses of Domenica Rouillard (cf “Architettura Radical” in B .Tschumi, Fresnoy, an architecture in project, 1993), like the most significant event since the post-war period for current architecture, the Utopia becomes a negative novel, a negative Utopia, the reverse of the project of control. The radical movement will be transformed into a story to which testifies “the voluntary prisoners to architecture” (1972), diploma of Rem Koolhaas.

The current Utopia, it is that of reality, to carry out the architecture of the Utopia and the dystopie. We work only on material projects, materialists. There is an enormous need to make starting from this tended negotiation, limiting, with reality. I would like that the space built for Pierre Chareau is an external space, public. The debate is not any more between one marginal, artistic, heroic architecture and sometimes poujadist, drawing aside the strict determinations of uses and operation and a strict answer agreed upon for the social request. The effectiveness to be found is of the same order as the effectiveness of the traditional work of the engineer. This found effectiveness consists in producing coherent situations.

4. “the immediate passage of a use to a use, without mediation of form.”

We resume work on the use, which either does not produce a form to him, the attempt to base an organization of the places only on the use, in the immediate passage to a use, without mediation of the form. The search of formless and the concentration on the relation, create an entirely new situation that Candilis and Woods proposed and who can only continue to question us: an architecture in connection with which one must give up any formal concern, which does not want to say aesthetic. With the opposite of the various formalisms, started again by the software, the projects which I could make have only little report/ratio to the form. Places of work, the City, the palate of the cinema, Guggenheim, the Art of engineer etc.

5. “the territory like interior”

In various tests and projects – “the withdrawal of the architect” (1988) Cross-pieces N 43, “Entered on the urban scene” 1988, Books of CCI # 5, forewords with the French translation of “Joining city” (1993) and with the work “the city, Art and Architecture” (1994, and in the project for Athens, we proposed to take with the letter the word installation, such as it gets busy in “the regional planning”, but which applies initially to our dwellings, interior installation. We could lean on the cities with the same care as that which we grant to our residences. In Europe known in its least recesses, gigantic park, the metaphor is essential; since the urban one occupies all the territory, public space is all open space. The geography is a public space which extends to the unit from the occupied grounds, often to refabric. The end of the conquest implies a nomadism recreating a private, attentive relation with urban, as an interior. The scale also changes the aesthetic values, this is why I proposed the words of sumptuous city, comfort, environment and of luxury of the territory, experimental town planning, town planning of the new feelings, bus indeed any possibility of stopping there, or to quite simply even see it, transforms the place into public space. Chareau, it is an example of sumptuous city, successful external space. The object is not distinct any more from the outside. The total occupation of the territory extended the imaginary one.


I proposed to call “medium” (the book on Fresnoy, 1993, and “Line of face” AMC # 69, 1996), which replaces space; it is the place where one is driven, and it applies to the urban environment or the interior of the buildings. The whole of significant information which comes to us and which we let us contribute to modify or of which we change perception architecture constitutes. The medium is visible, material, without depth, dish, graph, or contradictorily cloudy, atmospheric, extended to all, liquid, liquidated, liquified, of cytoplasmic fluidity. It is a line of thought which connects the Hook De luxe hotel, the modulator spaces light of Moholy -Nagy, the Tower of the winds, the exposure “Aimed of Japan” and the media library of Sendai of Toyo Ito. In the design of the “medium”, it has there no more perspective vision, the subject is taken in a bath of information, signs and lights perceived many times like characteristic of the metropolis. It vis-a-vis architecture but is not fully immersed any more.

7. “To push back architecture on the walls.”

Architecture exists like visibility, as well as the other objects which constitute the environment. Resonance with the time, an invention of appearance would be more creative of intelligence and comprehension of our time that the certainty patiently elaborate. Graphics, the joining or the weaving of our dubious frontages are opposed to the durable truths architecture which is known as modern. The visible materiality returns account of the character of artifact of architecture, new reality for a company of always prompt individuals to accept probable evidence of their feelings and their images of themselves. The questions will relate to comfort, with air-conditioning. To push back architecture on the walls.

8. “a work on the procedure and the device”

The house of the people of Clichy east one of the key links of a work on the procedure and the device. This architecture does not hold its effect of its presence, but of its operation as a device, what it generates beyond itself. The project is not completed from its own existence, it aims at producing effects apart from him: machine to perceive, invent uses, to produce social transformations, effects or feelings.
The displacement of the attention of the object plastic towards the device, mechanics, visual, fictional, analytical, but so invisible – a project is not necessarily any more due to the production of a form or an object and strategic – architecture like project of development only makes return well late in the century but has immense consequences on the mode of design and constitutes a total redeployment of the architectural invention.

9. “the contemporary subject.”

At Corbusier, there was a thought of the subject, and in extreme cases especially at his place, when well even, between tracts digestive and respiratory, it passes beside all the great figures of the subject: neither that of the man of crowd, neither that of the surrealist ambulations, unconscious or the dream, nor that of the flâneur. The architects contemporary, giving up any progressist project, one left the representation and the fictional invention of the subject to other manufacturers of images, arts persons, cinematographic, journalistic or advertising while at the same time “the existence” was never individualized as much.
One of the tasks of the architect is to propose as well the characters as contemporary subjects.

10 “It is stupid to give up reality, the social one, the everyday life, as one did since the middle of the years 70”

Longer than elsewhere, architecture in France was desired like a progress, much more than for the Anglo-Saxons and even other Latin. The contents social, voluntary, positive, of the architecture, which was the heart of the search of Renaudie and AUA, are the essence of our work. It is always necessary to convince the policy of the need for high standards. “To raise the conditions of living” is a splendid topic which I exposed in New York.

11. “long walls”: action and procedure (2)

Contemporary Athens was mainly built without town planning and rather without regulation nor intervention of the State. The negative consequences are known: absence of public transport, networks of cleansing, incredible circulation, maximum pollution, non-existent finances with for consequence impossibility of leading operations of town planning. A contrario, the city presents today a formal homogeneity, gray continuous tablecloth, unit of constructions of a low city which results in emphasizing the ancient landscape by creating a relation between a low fabric, the hills and the Acropolis.
Any project for Athens can only be thought like “snook” of the charter of Athens by opposing a weak town planning of Utopia to him. For the site of the “Long Walls”, this strengthened road which connected Athens to Pirée, and counts also held of impossibility of acquiring a control of the ground, it could not be question of posing the assumption of an operation of town planning of conquest. The town planning of situation does not imply formal achievements a priori, but of the actions and procedures, presences of the time in the project which leads to change the destination and the value of the place. It is a situation which is modified, and a new conscience of the site is revealed.
Action in rems on a real site: they are very material interventions.

A procedure replaces an image, with the traditional drawings of the consultations of town planning, vestige of a past where architecture decided the shape of the city. New but simple feelings are tested: to sommeiller on the roof of a building, to cross an olive grove which took seat in a street, to find a sand beach in the medium of the ruins, to meet a wet climate, to find or not vegetations exotic. Other feelings. attraction. Today, the zone of the Long Walls relates to only activities of small traditional industries: one built few residences there, modern tertiary employment settles elsewhere. In this particular case, the value of the project, it will be its capacity to attract other activities, housing and the services, education and research, to some extent to create attraction itself. Attraction will be the character of this long space. The project moves the project, considering that “the long walls” is a vacuum to be instituted. The buildings will come later on.
Which are the frequentable places for the contemporary man who puts at the second plan the values of rooting? To work with the invention of a company without places, absence which however would be immediately appropriable, invention of a territory city which would not imply a report/ratio of identification, realization of withdrawals of case equipped with existence. A nomadism of sedentaries who adapt all the places, being recreated a private, attentive relation there at the city. Situation and action. An architecture of situation shows the environment, or the direction changes some. An architecture of action authorizes behaviors. Architecture is a simple machinery. For the project of the “long walls”, we seek to change the statute of the place, so that it implies other uses and generates another urban climate and other richnesses. The modern city at reduced price thus replaces a maximum, sumptuous city; E comfort of the territory, the mood of the territories, a homage of the city to its inhabitants.

A modern ruin. The site is transformed into an axis where the “long walls” of Athens and the stop of the current activity will meet, an ancient archaeology and an archaeology of the present. The abandoned and ruined ground becomes the magic place of a surrealist expatriation in last so remote from/to each other. But all installations will be decisively contemporary: they will not have a form.
We practise several settings ruins some:
1. the building is abandoned. It remains worth visiting, one walks there, it becomes an artistic place of creation, interventions.
2. the building is reallocated and slightly modified, for example by a new color of the frontage.
3. Only a wall is preserved, a frontage, amongst other things isolated from the noise, or to direct the sights.
4. the building is completely demolished, rubble is left in the state or is removed.
5. rubble is crushed and carries out a platform, a new ground which is a layer of past.
A certain number of action-transformations proceeds there in time:
The zone is declared unconstructible. It is the only rule of town planning probably applicable to the site of the “long walls”.
Any new use of the ground (either by new occupants, or for new activities) is prevented. Impossible resale of the grounds. The heritage is not transmitted any more and the site is transformed into waste land. This phase is most dubious and longest: these measurements induce demonstrations of owners.
One institutes right-of-way on the private grounds.
The possible and residual building sites are stopped.
The zone is returned pedestrian. First of all, of the baffles the accessibilities reduce. The road accesses are limited to those which have activity there.
Maintenance, already very weak, is stopped, except that of the plantations. The ground is subjected to markings, scarifications which change its statute.
Specific plantations are carried out.
Agricultural cultures are reintroduced on certain grounds.
Large nets are installed, close to those of the stages of base ball or of golf in Japan and powerful lightings also on the principle of the sporting equipment highlight the zone.
Humid and vaporous atmospheres are created. They stop surrounding dust.
Footbridges and view-points are built to cross the zone of the Long Walls.
Excavations are carried out according to requirements’ in feelings.
One announces a town-planning for the surrounding grounds, external with the “long walls”. The plan is very favorable to construction. A plan of network and cleansing is carried out.
Activities are installed: sporting courses, cycle tracks, walks literary, romantic, alarming and dangerous.
Cultural functions (external artistic actions, gardens sets of themes), of distraction (cinema of full air, music) and of care of the body are reintroduced in certain buildings (beaches, baths, solariums, oar and sailing ships for children). More significant equipment is there necessary. They are in underground. Musics, screens, lightings are disseminated in the ground. The ceilings are transparent. One walks there. Space public involuntary. The project leads to create the turning into a desert of the zone become a romantic public space, surrealist, dubious oasis, available to the thought.


1. the following architects and designers collaborated in these projects and reflexions: Domenica Rouillard, Valéry Didelon, Christelle Gualdi, Nathalie Mane, Ghuislain His, Iva Klekova, Gilles Ménétrier.

2. Athens, “the city in glare”, is an international consultation of town planning organized in 1997. Projects of 15 international teams, among whom Frederic Borel, Nasrine Seraji, Michel Bourdeau, Eleni Gigantes, Takis Koubis, Raoul Bunschoten, Richard Scoffier related to the site of the “long walls” which connects Athens to Pirée. The project – a project-proclamation – presented here is that of a team around Alain Guiheux, Eric Bartolo, Aubin Fréchon, Laurent Lagadec, Nicolas Ourdas, Nana Poirel.