La Biennale di venizia - 2016 -

I’ve always paid a lot of attention to detail so that I can make the most of techniques available and really bring out proportions. But there’s something else that’s recently begun to influence my approach: after five or ten years, many modern constructions that were initially pristine lose their brilliance. And so I decided to turn more and more to materials that wouldn’t suffer the ravages of time, but would instead take on a patina.

My colleagues and I have turned our Brussels workshop into a type of laboratory, where we work through different solutions, before taking the final ones to building sites in a dozen or so countries throughout the world. Each time, we compare in particular the benefits of different woods, stones as well as smooth and granular concrete.   

In Corsica, for example, we added tuff, dust from some Bonifacio stone, to a mixture of cement, sand and stone, so that the resulting colour of the concrete would blend into the surrounding nature. We also poured this concrete into forms fitted with planks of wood of different thicknesses. This resulted in a grooved effect and also created flat horizontal parts where vegetation debris and marine sediments could be deposited.

This process gave the impression that the material was living, stamped with a certain “dirtiness” reflecting the rocks encompassing this enormous structure. No more talk of “ageing” or “deteriorating”, instead “patina” and “authenticity”. Put simply, an ode to time passing...

As you will no doubt have gathered, my architecture practice stems from an unconditional love for the modernist movement. Ultimately, it’s about freeing oneself from all forms of decoration, including the facing of facades and walls – notably cement works –, so that we can continue working unconstrained.