Jean-Paul Hermant opened his firm in 1987 with a partner. He makes sure to stay small, to keep his ‘craftsman architect’ identity. He believes that if a project is to be successful, it is necessary for the owner to be happy; to achieve that, he believes that everyone involved in the act of building needs to achieve consistent quality.

Jean-Paul Hermant
Jean-Paul Hermant Architectes

jeanpaulhermant.be
info@jeanpaulhermant.be

Technical sheet of this architecture video clip
Journalist : Emma C. Dessouroux
Cameraman : Emanuel Pinto / EpiProd
Photographies : Mister Emma

Editing : Emma C. Dessouroux / Cristina Dias
Direction : Emma C. Dessouroux
Production : Les Délires Productions

Translation : Comtrans
Subtitles : Les Délires Productions

English Subtitles

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It was in ’87, ’86-87,

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that I opened my first office
with a partner.

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Initially, I did the first project
all by myself,

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and the second also, after I returned,
so it started small.

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And then it grew nicely.

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Always with a…

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a desire not to grow too much,

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to stay as a small team.

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Very good, at least
there’s no wood element

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passing from between them.

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How will you do…

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-That’s it.
-Just that?

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Oh OK.

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We would rather consider

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ourselves as architecture craftsmen,

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rather than the artists
we sometimes try to be.

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So you need a developed artistic side,

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that’s for sure, to have a sensitivity.

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But I think we work for people

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and with people’s money,

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so we can’t say that
we are really artists.

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So the word craftsman is good enough.

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If that’s the case,
it will change the system.

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I think for a project to be successful,

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the client must be happy,

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and for the client to be happy,
all participants

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in the building project must be

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of a consistent quality.

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This feature

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of architecture
comes from the fact that…

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it’s a very big budget, for everyone.

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If you are an individual and you do

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300,000 Euros worth of work,

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it’s a considerable sum.
If you are a developer

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doing 10 million Euros worth of work,
it’s a large sum.

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So always…

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in our society,
all objects that are for sale

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are prefabricated objects.

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And here, it’s tailor-made.

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The importance of a feature

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is based on the justification

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given to it.

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If we make a feature,

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because just at that moment

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we had the idea to do it,

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it will fall short.

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The important thing is,

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when you come up with an idea like this,

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to say: « It’s interesting

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because it responds aesthetically

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to the question raised.

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It responds functionally
to the question raised.

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And it fits in terms of budget. »

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And so in all aspects that involve the…

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materialization
and implementation of the feature.

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We don’t always take steps

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given to us by others.

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My father, for example,

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without me really being aware of it,
and perhaps he wasn’t either,

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allowed me very quickly

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to find my voice

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in an open way,

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because I was nine
when he built his first house.

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It was a bit the same with music,
by inviting me to the great hall

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in the Palace of Fine Arts to listen to

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a number of concertos.

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And it was only very recently that

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I realized the importance,
ultimately, that it had

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in building

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my passions.

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I don’t have a huge memory,

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so I spent many years

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of my life, organizing myself.

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It has only been now,

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for two, three years,

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that I found the way
to organize my own work

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very effectively.

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And so, the presence of business cards

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on my desk,

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these are the latest business cards

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of people I have met
and that I have to recontact

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when the time comes
or with whom I still have some…

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some discussions to have.

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And to keep them fresh in my memory,

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I leave them,

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as though I’m leaving a statue on my desk.

French Subtitles

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C’est en 87, 86-87,

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que j’ai ouvert mon premier bureau
avec un collaborateur.

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Au début, le premier projet
je l’ai fait tout seul d’ailleurs,

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le deuxième aussi quand je suis rentré,
c’était une petite transformation.

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Et puis ça s’est agrandi gentiment.

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Avec toujours une…

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une volonté de ne pas
trop grandir, de rester

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une petite équipe.

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Très bien, du moins
qu’il n’y ait pas d’élément de bois

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qui passe de l’un à l’autre.

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Comment tu fais pour…

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  • C’est ça.
  • C’est juste ça?

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Ah OK.

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On considérerait plutôt

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qu’on est des artisans de l’architecture

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plutôt que des artistes
comme on essaie parfois de nous caler.

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Alors il faut
un côté artistique développé,

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ça c’est sûr,
pour le faire avec sensibilité.

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Mais je pense que l’on travaille
pour les gens

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et avec l’argent des gens, donc

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on ne peut pas dire que l’on est
des artistes à proprement parler.

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Donc l’artisan, le mot artisan
convient assez bien.

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Donc si ça se trouve,
il va changer de système.

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Je pense que pour qu’un projet soit réussi,

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il faut que le maître
de l’ouvrage soit content

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et pour que le maître de l’ouvrage
soit content, il faut que l’ensemble

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des participants à l’acte de bâtir soit

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d’une qualité homogène.

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Cette particularité

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de l’architecture vient du fait que…

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c’est des très gros budgets,
pour tout le monde.

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Si vous êtes un particulier
et que vous faites

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300 000 euros de travaux,

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c’est une somme considérable,
si vous êtes un promoteur

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et que vous faites 10 millions de travaux,
c’est une somme considérable.

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Donc toujours…

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dans notre société,
tous les objets qui sont à vendre

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sont des objets préfabriqués.

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Et ici, c’est du sur-mesure.

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L’importance du trait

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est basée sur la justification

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qu’on lui donne.

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Si on se contente de faire un trait

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parce qu’on avait justement à ce moment-là

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le fantasme de la réaliser de cette sorte,

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ça sera un peu court.

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L’important est de parvenir

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quand on donne une idée comme cela,

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à dire : « C’est intéressant

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parce que ça répond esthétiquement

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à la question posée.

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Ça répond fonctionnellement
à la question posée.

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Ça répond budgétairement
à la question posée. »

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Et ainsi de suite sur tous les aspects
qui comportent…

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la matérialisation
et la réalisation du trait.

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On ne prend pas toujours la mesure

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de ce que l’on reçoit des autres.

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Mon père, par exemple,

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sans vraiment que j’en prenne conscience,
et sans doute peut-être lui non plus,

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m’a permis très rapidement,

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j’avais neuf ans quand il a construit
sa première maison,

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de me donner voix au chapitre

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d’une façon ouverte.

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Un peu la même chose dans la musique
en m’invitant à une grande salle

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du Palais des Beaux-Arts pour écouter

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l’un ou l’autre concerto.

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Et ce n’est que assez récemment

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que je me suis rendu compte de l’importance,
finalement, que ça avait eu

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dans la construction

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de mes passions.

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Je n’ai pas une énorme mémoire,

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donc j’ai passé beaucoup d’années,

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dans mon existence à m’organiser.

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Ce n’est que maintenant

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depuis deux, trois ans,

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que j’ai trouvé le moyen d’organiser
mon propre travail

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de façon très efficace.

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Et donc, la présence des cartes de visites

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sur mon bureau,

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ce sont les dernières cartes de visite

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de gens que j’ai rencontrés
et que je dois recontacter

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le moment venu ou avec lesquels
j’ai encore quelques…

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quelques discussions à avoir.

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Et pour les garder
dans une mémoire fraîche

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je les laisse

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comme si j’en laissais
le buste sur mon bureau.