Our work is as concerned with the conception of architecture as it is with the conception of structures—civil engineering structures such as transportation and territorial infrastructure.
We have always thought that architecture cannot remove itself from the domain of construction. The latter is a determinant for the conception of a project and its execution. A project is thus an accumulation of shared work that involves the construction site as a place of memory and construction itself as a vast process of transformation.
This transformation finds its origin in the very use of materials: from ore extraction to the fabrication of sheets of steel, from logging to laminated wooden structures, from quarrying to reinforced concrete frames, or from bauxite mining to extruded aluminum profiles. Everywhere around us, the landscape is shaped by an industrial process that places construction at the center of this transformation.
But it is the project that reveals this transformation. By being grounded in rational choices that are organized around three major themes—geometry, statics, and construction—, the project becomes a well-reasoned tool for the transformation of space.
In the field of civil engineering, this conceptualization for a project is crucial. It must avoid the technocratic abstraction in which large-scale projects are often built. A bridge is not simply a crossing and a road is not just an asphalt strip that accommodates migratory traffic.
A project must also find a certain coherency in the study of scale within the surrounding landscape. It must find its place within an informed historical topography. The bridge can thus become a promenade perched over a river and the road can become a voyage through geographical textures.
Yesterday, we built for the masses; today, we build for movement—the value of time has taken precedence over geography. Gaining time seems to signify losing a relationship with the earth, becoming detached from our surroundings. A dematerialization has occurred.
To avoid yesterday’s mistakes, it is necessary that these major transformations not be reduced to their technical values. We must rediscover the subtle qualities of observing the landscape, the built qualities of structural works, and the qualities of sharing within a common environment.
Thoughts about the city, like those of the countryside, seem to dissolve into mathematical imagery; this is chaos for some, temporal anamorphosis of geography for others, but virtual for everyone.
On the other hand, it is the sensitive attention to places, the value of light, the pleasures of gravity, and the use of materials that can assure the nobility of our shared surroundings.