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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.