Each year The Architectural League’s Current Work series features significant international figures who powerfully influence contemporary architectural practice and shape the future of the built environment. Anne Lacaton and Jean Phillippe Vassal of Lacaton & Vassal will present their firm’s work in a public lecture.
Lacaton & Vassal is an international practice based in Paris that works on public buildings, housing, and urban planning. Their projects “are based on a principle of generosity and economy, serving the life, the uses and the appropriation, with the aim of changing the standard.” The firm received international recognition for its alternative approach to social housing, as articulated in PLUS, a 2004 study and manifesto developed in collaboration with architect Frédéric Druot. Its opening statement “never demolish, never remove or replace, always add, transform, and reuse!” came in response to an architectural competition to replace a 1960s high-rise apartment building on Paris’ outskirts. The study has become emblematic of a surging interest in refurbishing postwar high-rise and superblock housing. Lacaton & Vassal’s projects are based on the idea “that transformation would permit one to respond to needs in a more economic, more effective and more qualitative way.”
Lacaton & Vassal’s social housing projects include the transformation of the 96-apartment building Tour Bois le Prêtre in Paris completed in 2011 and of the 4,000-unit complex Cité du Grand Parc in Bordeaux completed in 2016. Other notable works include the contemporary art centers Palais de Tokyo in Paris and the FRAC in Dunkerque, France; Nantes School of Architecture; and the House Latapie in Bordeaux. Among the firm’s prestigious awards are the 2016 Living Places Award co-presented by SIMON and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation; the Life Achievement Award from the 2016 Lisbon Architecture Triennale; and the 2016 Gold Medal from the Academy of Architecture in France.
Anne Lacaton graduated from the School of Architecture of Bordeaux in 1980 and received a diploma in Urban Planning from the same university in 1984. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Madrid, University of Florida, University of NY-Buffalo, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and Delft University of Technology, among other institutions.
Jean Philippe Vassal graduated from the School of Architecture of Bordeaux in 1980. From 1980 to 1985 he worked as an urban planner in Niger. He has taught at Technical University of Berlin, Peter Behrens School of Architecture in Düsseldorf, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, among others. He is currently a professor at the Universität der Künste Berlin.
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