Du Besset - Lyon


Since the late 1980s, the du Besset-Lyon agency has been developing a fluid and relational architecture, between surface and depth, in a constant interaction between interior and exterior. Here, the architecture “features” its environment, and the building, forming a relationship to the city, is erected upon visual exchange and the production of ordinary images. For D. Lyon, architecture is a “mental activity”, “destabilizing and dynamic”. In a period marked by “the end of major narratives” (J. F. Lyotard), what discourse can architecture still cite, and how can it maintain its capacity for expression? The architects’ answer can be found in the arrangement of a fluidity, in the organized flight of spaces and the permeability of sensations—a gentle synaesthesia which prevents architecture from becoming rigid, like a static object. So in each of their many projects involving cultural and university facilities, the architecture tries to remain the agent of its own transformation, thanks to its interaction with its occupants and its asserted availability. The architecture is organized and developed in the sequencing and combination of figures giving rise to often heterogeneous space (a transparency and a matter). As something mobilizing the ephemeral, the sensitive and the moving (plane, screen, colour, texture, transparency, opaqueness), architecture is a sensor, it absorbs and redistributes the dynamics of things and beings. It increases the number of relations, possibly leading to objoy, that architectural pleasure that is shared by the architect and his users.

Dominique Lyon (1954) and Pierre du Besset (1949) set up their agency in Paris in 1987. Two works swiftly took them to the forefront of things: the Maison de la Villette (1987) and the Le Monde newspaper building in Paris (1990). In 1994, they inaugurated the Médiathèque d’Orléans; there then followed, among other projects, the Bibliothèque de Rungis (1999), the Médiathèque de Lisieux (2001), the Bibliothèque inter-universitaire droit-lettres in Grenoble (2004), and a university building at Saint-Denis (2005). Their project for the Médiathèque de Troyes was awarded the 2002 Equerre d’Argent prize. In 2008, they built the extension to the Gallerie Perrotin in Paris, and won the competition for the conversion of the Clermont-Ferrand Sanitorium Savourin into a School of Architecture. In 2011, they won the competition for a Gymnasium and a stadium at Asnières-sur-Seine. Dominique Lyon is the author of several books, including Point de vue, usage du monde (1994), Les avatars de l’architecture ordinare (1997), Le Corbusier vivant (1999) and Construction (HYX, 2010), and has taught in particular at Columbia University in New York and the Ecole d’architecture in Versailles.

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