ODBC (Odile Decq, Benoît Cornette)


Since the early 1980s, the ODBC Architectes Urbanistes agency has been asserting an architecture marked by high-tech aesthetics and deconstructivist overtones, which the sharp, metal silhouette of the Banque Populaire de l’Ouest (Rennes, 1988-91) would thrust to the forefront of the international scene. Involving “Hyper-Tension” architectures, somewhere between explosion and interconnection, their projects can be seen in an almost conflicting relationship to space and site. For the MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art (Rome, 2001-2012), ODBC created a “dynamic equilibrium” by destabilizing the existing buildings through new extensions. Here as elsewhere, the agency focused on reactivating the body by summoning every sense through the increased number of circuits and viewpoints: “multiple roads”, railings and balconies, an interplay of perspectives, and a controlled use of a reduced palette of colours… Architecture is conceived as a complex network filled with flows, like a veritable living being. This science of the circuit was specifically expressed in certain programmes, such as transport infrastructures (Port autonome de Paris, Gennevilliers, 1994-2001), cultural organizations (FRAC Bretagne, Rennes, 2005-2012 ) and university complexes (Université de Nantes, 1993) as well as exhibition sets (Bloc. Le Monolithe Fracturé, Venice Biennale, 1996) and installations (Hypertension, Le Magasin, Grenoble, 1993).

In 1979, in Laval, the architect and city-planner Odile Decq (1955, Laval) founded the ODBC Architectes Urbanistes Agency with Benoît Cornette (1953-1998), who had degrees in medicine (1978) and architecture (1985), and died prematurely in 1998. From then on, Odile Decq has been alone at the head of OBDC, carrying on the approach initiated with her companion and rewarded by many prizes (Albums de la Jeune Architecture, 1986; Lion d’Or, Venice, 1996; Benedictus Award, 1994 and 1999; International Architecture Award, 2006). The agency is regularly invited to international exhibitions (Venice Biennale, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004; Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam, 1998; ArchiLab, 1999, 2000, 2001; Beijing Biennial, 2004). Odile Decq also has a busy teaching career, and ran the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture (Paris) from 2007 to 2012.

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