On a cool summer's day last week, Elena Collins met up with the founding partners of Architecturespossibles, Christian and Pascale Pottgiesser, at the Sepentine Pavilion in Hyde Park, London. The Parisian based company first came to WAN's attention after being highly commended for their work in the WAN 21 for 21 Award. Elena caught up with them to discuss how they approach combining art and architecture and how to make impossible architecture possible.
When did you start starting working together?
Pascale- I am not an architect but an artist and we have worked together for 10 years.
Christian- My wife she did her own work for many years and one day we decided to work together. Pascale kept her own photography studio and together we started doing events together with architects and artists and the outcome was really interesting.
We invited one artist, who we said could create something in our office and he said ‘I will open a bar' so for a few years we had a bar in our office called La Promesse Chez Abar. It was a really interesting, as it's federated a lot of different disciplines. It brought artists and architecture together. This was the first thing we really did together.
Why did you start combining art with architecture?
Pascale- I think it's normal, the term architecture is very open and artists also think about architecture so why wouldn't they combine them? It's not normal to separate them and it is not an effort to combine them. You should always ask the question ‘what is art?' and this principle is sometimes missed architecture. I believe mixing art and architecture opens up the question ‘What is architecture?'
Christian- What we are doing is complete at random. We are traveling between the disciplines. We don't have precise ideas, as you never know what is going to happen in other disciplines. It is quite an interesting idea and it is kind of dynamic system of ideas with an input and output which keeps the system going.
Is this where the name your practice ‘Architecturespossibles' derives from?
Christian - Yes, that should be credited to Pascale. We believe things are possible that seem completely impossible and it is matter on how to regard the problem. If you always stay inside your own discipline you will limit yourself on how to respond to it.
Pascale - Architecture possible is not about all ‘types architecture being possible' but it's about emancipating the idea. We know everything is possible but often it is formalised. Our approach is much more primitive.
What kinds of projects do you enjoy working on?
Christian - The projects we are most interested in are the ones in between the disciplines. Not completely architecture, not completely design nor completely furniture. For example, between landscape and furniture design, we did a very little project called Praticable which was for a garden festival in France. We designed a little primitive hut. It was a fast project which we did it in 3 weeks. It was a very particular for us because it was a real exploration of space and completely out of all standards but it worked.
How do you approach a project?
Christian - When we meet a client there is always a moment when we say that we can have 15 minutes to be totally delirious and say whatever they wish. They speak all their impossible ideas. Then we get the project they want from their strangest ideas and we are really interested in these visions. For instance, in the office project Pons + Hout the client said ‘I want to when I go to my office I want to eat papayas' and we created a realistic interpretation.
Can you tell me more about your Pons+ Hout office project?
Christian -It was a funny project. In the office we put large tables in bubbles and we planted a forest in it. We reconstructed the hall and the glazing was done to permit the trees to grow inside. When the employees first saw the project, they started dancing. It was very strange thing!
Pascale - They were very happy. I'm not sure if being happy made them more productive in the workspace but they are pleased not have the same office as everyone else.
Christian - They felt like they were somewhere else, not in Paris. It made a happy working environment and it was very clam.
What makes you distinctive?
Christian -In France there are no architects that are doing the same thing that we are doing. Sometimes people are amazed by what we can do as we have a lot of standards to follow in France. Everything is impossible for them and they excuse what they do with standards. But you can always have a new reintpretation or approach to standards.
Are there any new projects that you working on at the moment?
Christian - We did a project called Maison L which was quite popular and we have been asked to do similar things and we are working on a piazza as well in a small village. But for us the interesting projects are the ones that always between disciplines where there are no real boundaries and you can't put in a precise category.
To view more work by Architecturespossibles, please click here
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