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(François Roche, Gilles Desèvedavy, Stéphanie Lavaux, Jean Navarro)
  • Architects

In his manifesto L’ombre du caméléon (1994), François Roche sketched his conception of an architecture with a preference for material, physical and climatic facts. Cartography replaced the traditional task of tracing, territory replaced plan, situation replaced site, and the furtive replaced the static object. His architecture veered towards hybridization and “hyperlocalism”, aimed at distorting reality and bringing out its most significant unusualness. Roche started to use digital techniques in 1996, just when the agency moved to Reunion Island and then South Africa. The projects devised at that time (Route du Maïdo; Soweto Memorial Museum; Port-abri de Sainte-Rose) stemmed from hybridizations and distortions based on digitized photographs of the environment which were subsequently deformed and reworked. Roche’s work opens up a deceptive architecture: the Maison Barak (Sommières, 2001, completed), (Un)Plug Building, EDF Tower, Paris, 2001-2003, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bangkok (Dustyerelief F/B-mu, Bangkok, 2002, Mosquito Bottleneck (2003), and the Garden of Earthly Delights (2008) all exaggerate their context, whatever it may be, and literally merge with it. Other recent projects incorporate a process of self-determination by way of the new technologies: I’ve heard about (2005), for example, simulates a process of bio-urbanism whose constructive algorithm integrates individual and collective stress within its data, like a virus. All these projects illustrate a line of thinking which refers to art, philosophy, genetics and science-fiction, inspired by nano-technologies as well as by bio-robotics, and conveyed with the same caustic eye in writings, lectures and projects.

After studying architecture in Versailles, François Roche (Paris, 1961) founded his agency in Paris in 1989. He increased his joint ventures, as is evident from the perpetually changing name of the agency. Known from then on as R&Sie(n), his agency today includes Stéphanie Lavaux (Saint-Denis de la Réunion, 1966), a graduate of the Paris School of Fine Arts (1990) and Toshikatsi Kiuchi (Japan, 1978), who respectively joined it in 1993 and 2007. Roche also has a teaching career to his credit (TU/Vienna, 2002; Bartlett School, London, 2000-01; Columbia, New York, 2006-2010; USC, Los Angeles, since 2009), and lectures throughout the world. His projects have been regularly described in publications, and also presented at numerous exhibitions (Venice Biennale, 1990, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2010; ArchiLab, 1999, 2001, 2003; Architecture non standard, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2003; SFMoMA, San Francisco, 2010; and Le Laboratoire, Paris, 2010).

Nadine Labedade