The French architect Edouard François (Boulogne-Billancourt, 1958), first working alongside François Roche (1990-93) and then Duncan Lewis (1994-97) and finally in his own firm (1998), promotes environmentally sensitive architecture based on the concept of contextualization. Far from manifesting an ecologist’s posture or one of identity-based localism, his work tends to activate new relationships between architecture and landscape. His “sensitive” constructions seemingly extracted from the land attempt to reestablish a simple link between architecture, people and the ground. His Gîtes Ruraux (rural shelters, Jupilles, 1996), school in the trees (Thiais, 1996), the Immeuble qui pousse (the tower that grows, 2000), Tower Flower (2004), dwellings in brick and chestnut wood (Louviers), gained immediate attention. This is thanks not only to their faultless compliance with the most exacting HQSE standards, but also to the originality of the vision of nature, always intertwined with buildings they reveal. Edouard François has designed many public housing projects (Eden Bio, 2008; Skinwall, Grenoble, 2008), while also working on projects of a much larger scale (Full Green Titanium, Paris, delivery 2014; Cité Descartes, university campus, Champs-sur-Marne). His work is regularly featured in exhibitions (Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Arc en Rêve, Bordeaux; Centre Pompidou, Paris) and he has been frequently recognized (Creator of the year, 2011; Salon Maison&Objet, Paris; International Fellow, Royal Institute of British Architects, 2011). Teaching in France and abroad (Architectural Association, London), he is currently working on the publication of a book entitled La fin du logement social (the end of public housing).
The English designer and architect Duncan Lewis (Wallsend, 1960) began his career in Japan in 1988. Settling in France in 1990, he first worked with Jacques Hondelatte, then Lacaton & Vassal, and finally with Edouard François from 1994 to 1997. Thereafter he created the Lewis-Potin-Lewis firm before going on to found the Scape Architecture firm in Bordeaux in 2000. Building on the concepts of context and territory, he draws on the sources of ecosystems, aiming to ensure sustainable development. His architecture is nurtured by elements found onsite and by turning environmental, climatic and budget constraints to his advantage. The Highway Bridge project (1993, with François Roche and Édouard François) and the Buffon school complex extension (Thiais, 1995, with Édouard François) are in osmosis with the structure of the landscape. In the same way, the Lycée Jean Moulin (Revin, 2012) hugs the slope of the hills, blending architecture and landscape. The Bibliothèque Universitaire Florence Delay (Bayonne, 2008), located in the city’s historic center, disappears into the 17th-century fortifications built by Vauban. Duncan Lewis has authored several projects that have garnered attention (Résidence Ama Lurra, Bayonne, 2010; Hérouville Saint-Clair Tramway Station, Caen, 2002; Gardens of the Giants, Lille, 2008). In parallel, he pursues his teaching career in the universities and schools of Barcelona, London and Versailles. He was awarded the First Prize at the Sophia biennale of architecture in 1997 and was selected in 2007 for the Mies Van der Rohe Prize for his school complex in the Parc du Hell (Obernai).