The architectural language of Frédéric Borel is enriched by the iconic formal elements of modern architecture (bridges, ocean liner smoke stacks, airplane wings and cockpits) as well as figurative elements (such as African and oriental masks) and references to popular culture (films and science-fiction cartoons). According to Richard Scoffier, the architect’s projects are presented as true “narratives of forms”, in that they refer to the notion of the “uncanny strangeness” found in surrealist paintings (Chirico, Dali…), just like the anthropomorphic towers of the Ecole d’Architecture de Paris Val-de-Seine (2002-2007). His compositions are often arranged in successive planes, enhancing the impression of depth (Immeuble, Rue Oberkampf, Paris, 1990-93). Architecture of the fragment and the fold, somewhere between monolithic compactness, fracture and shattering, Borel’s structures are imposing figures on the landscape, like complex articulations of distinct volumes with differentiated forms, having no direct relation to a use or any kind of building structure (Immeuble de logements PLI, rue Pelleport, Paris, 1993-1999). The particular attention paid to interstices and their quality contributes to creating an urban fabric that is both dense and open, providing breathing areas within the congested space of the contemporary city.
Frédéric Borel (born in 1959, in Roanne) graduated from the École Spéciale d'Architecture. In 1984, he won the PAN XIII competition. The following year he opened his own office and was awarded the Albums de la Jeune Architecture prize and followed by the Villa Médicis Hors les Murs. In 1999, he was made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of Arts and Letters) and received the French National Grand Prize for Architecture in 2010 for his overall career accomplishments. His projects are regularly shown in France and abroad (Venice Biennales of 1996, 2002 and 2008; ArchiLab, 2000). His work has been the subject of several books (Richard Scoffier, Frédéric Borel, 2004; Ecole Nationale d’Architecture Paris Val-de-Seine, 2008).