A 1977 graduate of the French School of Fine Arts, Michel Rémon quickly became known for two research works on the thickness of façades and bioclimatic urban architecture, which already testified to his thinking on heliotropism within a dense urban fabric - the common theme of an approach that he would subsequently develop.
He was a Young Architecture Albums prizewinner and in 1984 created his own firm in Paris. In 1994, he was nominated for the Equerre d'Argent (Silver T-Square) prize for the Université des Chênes at Cergy-Pontoise, which in parallel obtained the first prize for architecture from the Val-d'Oise General Council. The leisure center at Torcy, the École Supérieure d'Arts et Métiers in Metz and the Forensic Science Laboratory at Écully were to confirm his reputation in this first period, from 1994 to 1997.
With a team of forty people, including 35 architects, Michel Rémon currently divides his time between public projects, public-private partnerships (PPPs) and prestigious private operations for Air Liquide or the headquarters of Airbus Helicopters at Marignane, which underscore the vitality of his studio by exploring new domains.
A recognized company leader, he is high up on the roll of honor of large French architectural firms. Hospitals, stadiums, universities, research laboratories, tertiary and infrastructure facilities .... his studio in Paris carries out complex large-scale projects. Responding to exceptional programs, they all raise academic issues in terms of technicality, functionality and architecture for new-build and for the restructuring of sensitive sites. Following the National Institute of Solar Energy (INES) at Chambéry in 2013 – with its dual-geometry roof, natural ventilation and solar-powered air-conditioning – he also designed the CNRS building at Saclay, with a cleanroom having 3,000 m² of useful floor area.
While the Reims Stadium, the hospital sites at Villeneuve-Saint-Georges and the Édouard-Herriot Hospital in Lyon showed Michel Rémon to be a man of large scale and large sites, the creation of space, proportions, relationship to the site, ground and sky, and the art of roofs guide his writing. Attentive to the permanence of architecture, he always returns to context, evoking in turn Casa Malaparte on Capri or Alberti's De pictura.
Prizes and the Medal of Honor from the French Academy of Architecture (2008) have crowned his works. A teacher and consultant architect to the Ministry of Territorial and Sustainable Development, he was also a consultant to the inter-ministerial commission that ensures high-quality public buildings (MIQCP).
2015: Titular member of the French Academy of Architecture
2008: Medal of Honor from the French Academy of Architecture
2002: First prize in architecture from the Order of Architects – Regional Council of Lorraine, École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts et Métiers, Metz
1994: Nominated for the Équerre d’Argent award – University of Cergy-Pontoise
1981: Winner of the Young Architecture Albums
If I were to describe Michel Rémon, I would say that he’s a man who is very attached to what is concrete, to matter, to the earth. His feet are firmly planted on the ground, he designs space first with his body and his senses. He will sometimes build an environment of sensations before he puts together a drawing. This is how the ideas of an atmosphere (the wood atrium of the National Institute of Solar Energy), or of a particular place (the gently sloping hall of the University of Cergy-Pontoise) or of a framed view are born.
In project design work, I notice that he first considers the concrete aspects: practice (functionality, how the building will be occupied, and the way the future users will use it) and the site, the land, its topography, its nature.
He will seek to know down to the tiniest detail the interaction of functional sequences, the links to favor, those to be excluded.
This is an important basis, a key starting point for the project, which Michel Rémon demands and shares with all the architects in the studio.
In the Studio, we always take plenty of time before we begin drawing to decode the programs entrusted to us, to cross-reference data and cross-reference it again to understand and also to learn how it functions or should function.
One of our primary goals is to devise an ideal functional outline independently of any other contingency. For Michel Rémon, it is inconceivable to start a drawing without this preliminary approach.
For us, this functional approach is not restrictive because it constantly feeds and supports the thinking at other levels of our research: the questioning about the positioning of the project on the site and its fit in the geographical, sociological and economic contexts, its bioclimatic advantages and its spatial form.
I believe that it is via the synthesis of all these studies that we develop the sense of the project. This involves a construction of thought, step by step, a journey that is sometimes laborious, sometimes quick and obvious, but never instantaneous or heaven-sent. A concept born from a cluster of convergent approaches.
We seek an idea of the project that "makes sense", not only for us, but, above all and primarily for those we are building for.
I would say that this is the fundamental condition for a project to go from our hands to those of the users, for them to recognize it and make it their own after we have been there.
We prefer a more open and subtle approach over a pompous architectural gesture: it is in this sharing of pleasures and emotions that the key to our work lies.
By Marie-Claude Richard, Project Director.