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Begin to be a young independent architect – dream or nightmare ?

All young architects want to be independent one day, own his agency and be successful. But today – in this context – it seems to be just a dream. A young French agency from Paris, fresh architectures explain the beginning of this experience which take place since 2005. An interview by Audrey Rocher to fresh architectures team, Julien Rousseau, Ulisse Gnesda, Luca Battaglia.

- What are the three projects that characterize your agency and why?

First, 17 apartments for Siemp in Paris. There are apartments localized on an angle parcel. This place is very exposed to harm noise and views. We have proposed a building cutting in a block, sculpted for answering to the buildings in the surroundings, especially for the rotunda in Stalingrad place. Our building is protecting by a shiny ceramic skin.

The windows has been worked into the aim to show the main views toward the landscape of canal saint Martin and protecting the apartments from harm noise and views of the aerial subway.

appartments Paris Siempappartments Paris Siemp

The second, office’s project is located in the east suburb of Paris, Marne la Vallée. This project is located in the cité Descartes, a place for studies and research. We have decided to conceive a building which response to this context. Within this place which become the reference in France for researches about environmental solutions, this project is entirely constructed with wood. This building is located in front of a great forest, we have proposed to take the public parts into a volume which – like a watchtower – is a point of reference and allowed to bring out the views from this landscape.

The third is a project for 80 apartments for Sequano in Saint-Ouen (North suburb of Paris). This program is representative for the evolution of the land ‘the big Paris’. In the border of the center of the capital it shows the evolution of the suburb; from the industrial period (in the past it was docks) to the actual aim of building density, developing vertical apartments buildings which include 9 floors. It is not possible in the city centre of Paris!

appartments docks saint-Ouen

- How were the first order arrived?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the order that arrived to us, but we came to it! Moreover it still continue in that way. Enthusiasm, energy, and conviction succeeded!

- In what occasion did you create your agency?

We have worked into famous agencies like Renzo Piano, Foster and Partners or Yves Lion, we have acquire during this period a lot of experience and knowledge then we decide to create our agency.

- Which will be – in your opinion – the projects in the present and the future? Have you got as a young agency different answers compared to older agencies?

Projects of the future? Give us eternal youth if you owned it! Fresh architecture for ever! Without owned it, and without be psychic, it seems to be an evidence that the ‘cite radieuse’ designed by modern architects and Le Corbusier is the future project. Beyond this wink, our fathers have huge ambitions, but the aim now is a little different, clearly oriented in the way of the respect of the environment. This city must be invented designed, constructed, lived…

Thanks to new jobs and new tools, I mean CAD, BIM, communication… We try to answer to these questions and fresh architectures use it! More specialists, more users, and still more communication and a little bit of intuition will make the city of the future! Your blog take part to this and offer precious contacts and relation outside French borders. Our origins, different but complementary experiences encourage us to look for innovative partnerships.

- Have you got a philosophy into your agency? Or did you refused it?

No dogma, no philosophy, a different approach to each work. But it’s already a philosophy! A good project is succeeded by a good team, enterprise and a good architect! So, how to create this dream team for a dream project? Did the philosophy can help us? Maybe to improve the quality of exchanges between different people who worked on the project less when this philosophy became a doctrine and a certitude.

- Which books did you use?

We use a lot of architecture books! Or not, a lot of internet, software, and all that can contribute to develop the architectural answer of a project and which can rise a creative answer or a new answer! The references on internet are furtive and fleeting, those on books are completed, dated, signed. We have a lot of references on mind all the time, in each meeting we discuss about references and all ideas bang into each other.

- Did you work with other partners?

Sure, a lot! Like Paris Habitat, Siemp, Immobilière 3F, Séquano, Bouygues immobilier, Les nouveaux constructeurs…

- What are the advantages and drawbacks to own an agency?

We never own an agency, the agency owned us! In fact this question advantages versus drawbacks is wrong because there are just one way to continue. Since you create the agency, you just have to go! Amazing liberty but also frightened. We are confronted to construction and independence (beyond physical limits). But I have the intuition that this independence is in the gene of all architects, isn’t it?

The question is the size of the agency. How many people do you need to make your projects. There are different choices. Fresh architectures decided to have an good number of collaborators for better answering to the client in each part of the project. We almost succeed, at twelve people, we do a break, I promise!

- First times, independent, people always do mistakes and learn about it, but these mistakes waste time and money. What are your experiences?

We are a generation of marvelous architects! In fact, by dint of noticed that young agencies rise up thanks to persuasive pictures, we have make a lot of pictures like that which convinced the clients. The huge danger is to be convinced himself by a dreaming picture which is difficult to make. We try to improve the 3d conception in the aim to link the image to plan and section and to the reality. Soon the video… fresh must go on!

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Audrey Rocher.
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