The Brussels-based firm Label Architecture is one of the ten craft architecture firms that caviar.archi has decided to portray in film. Thibaut Rome and Christophe Pham tell you all about their interest in architecture in front of Mister Emma’s camera. They describe their day-to-day work and practices. Quality architecture, architecture in good taste, but what does creating architecture ultimately mean?

Label Architecture
Thibaut Rome – Christophe Pham

labelarchitecture.be
label@labelarchitecture.be

With the support of

Technical sheet of this architecture video clip
Journalist : Emma C. Dessouroux
Cameraman : Emma C. Dessouroux
Photographies : Label Architecture

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

Translation : ComTranslations
Subtitles : Les Délires Productions

English subtitles

1
00:00:13,040 –> 00:00:17,680
My reason for getting into architecture
came about kind of by accident.

2
00:00:17,760 –> 00:00:22,160
I felt surrounded by the city

3
00:00:22,240 –> 00:00:25,600
but I didn’t know how to read the space
and that challenged me.

4
00:00:25,680 –> 00:00:27,720
I couldn’t figure out or say

5
00:00:27,800 –> 00:00:32,280
why certain architecture
was good or not.

6
00:00:32,360 –> 00:00:34,120
That puzzled me.

7
00:00:35,280 –> 00:00:38,040
It was at the school next
to the ERG, Saint Luc,

8
00:00:38,760 –> 00:00:40,320
where I saw that they worked hard

9
00:00:40,400 –> 00:00:42,200
and I got onto two or three courses.

10
00:00:42,280 –> 00:00:46,440
And little by little,
I branched out into architecture.

11
00:00:46,520 –> 00:00:51,120
Space is, quite simply,
what I like about architecture,

12
00:00:51,480 –> 00:00:54,480
and also the playful
or labyrinthine quality

13
00:00:54,560 –> 00:00:55,640
that a space can have.

14
00:00:57,040 –> 00:01:00,920
I love to walk and run through buildings.

15
00:01:11,400 –> 00:01:14,640
We play around a bit with conventions.

16
00:01:14,720 –> 00:01:16,920
It’s rather multifaceted architecture.

17
00:01:17,000 –> 00:01:21,680
Every project is simply a chance
to do something different

18
00:01:21,760 –> 00:01:23,720
because requirements are different,

19
00:01:23,800 –> 00:01:25,760
because needs are different.

20
00:01:28,800 –> 00:01:30,520
What we can say is that we have

21
00:01:30,600 –> 00:01:35,520
quite a rational and elementary approach
to architecture.

22
00:01:36,080 –> 00:01:38,680
There also needs to be

23
00:01:38,760 –> 00:01:41,440
a certain amount of enjoyment,

24
00:01:41,840 –> 00:01:46,480
for us or for the client,
or the project management.

25
00:01:46,560 –> 00:01:48,560
It feels to me like we just do extensions.

26
00:01:48,640 –> 00:01:50,120
Even when we do a whole new building,

27
00:01:50,200 –> 00:01:52,640
it’s always an extension,
an extension of the landscape.

28
00:01:53,320 –> 00:01:56,520
Because of that, with the shapes we use

29
00:01:57,240 –> 00:01:59,200
we’re not afraid

30
00:02:00,960 –> 00:02:02,600
to play with perception,

31
00:02:03,600 –> 00:02:07,440
to make believe the building
was always there, although it’s new,

32
00:02:07,520 –> 00:02:09,200
or to divide up the operation.

33
00:02:09,280 –> 00:02:11,360
We’re not so much interested

34
00:02:11,440 –> 00:02:14,520
in the idea of doing
contemporary or modern.

35
00:02:14,600 –> 00:02:18,680
We work on pretty regular plans
which are quite systematic.

36
00:02:18,760 –> 00:02:21,600
The idea is to give it a kind of rhythm,

37
00:02:21,680 –> 00:02:26,400
to hypnotize the visitor with repetition

38
00:02:26,480 –> 00:02:28,520
and get them to lose themselves
in the space.

39
00:02:30,760 –> 00:02:31,920
This isn’t a leak.

40
00:02:32,000 –> 00:02:34,080
I mean, the leak comes from the tower.

41
00:02:34,560 –> 00:02:36,640
So it’s not a problem.
Maybe in the tower room…

42
00:02:36,720 –> 00:02:38,760
Yes, you could call us craftsmen.

43
00:02:39,240 –> 00:02:41,880
I prefer the term handyman to craftsman.

44
00:02:42,560 –> 00:02:46,640
Craftsman implies
a certain corporate tradition,

45
00:02:47,280 –> 00:02:50,320
while I think manufacturers
are also craftsmen

46
00:02:50,400 –> 00:02:52,240
when they invent something.

47
00:02:54,560 –> 00:02:57,040
They have to reach a market,
to reach people,

48
00:02:57,120 –> 00:03:00,560
or else their efforts are fruitless.

49
00:03:00,880 –> 00:03:05,720
And we have to work with industries,
especially after the 20th century.

50
00:03:07,200 –> 00:03:10,680
So, I don’t go for an industrial rationale
at any price,

51
00:03:11,160 –> 00:03:12,920
but rather more of a DIY approach,

52
00:03:13,000 –> 00:03:17,080
knowing who to work with
and what to work with,

53
00:03:17,160 –> 00:03:19,360
with what materials, with what companies.

54
00:03:26,840 –> 00:03:31,120
You might sometimes say
our architecture is in poor taste,

55
00:03:33,360 –> 00:03:37,760
in the sense that we play
with existing contexts

56
00:03:37,840 –> 00:03:39,960
which are already stronger

57
00:03:40,320 –> 00:03:42,680
than any new additions we could bring,

58
00:03:43,080 –> 00:03:45,200
and sometimes we try to play into it.

59
00:03:45,280 –> 00:03:46,400
Two projects come to mind:

60
00:03:46,480 –> 00:03:53,720
the one at Loverval
and the house extension at Limal

61
00:03:54,040 –> 00:03:57,160
where we simply extended
an existing situation.

62
00:03:57,520 –> 00:04:00,360
The existing situation was so strong

63
00:04:00,440 –> 00:04:05,240
that it was hard to outdo.

64
00:04:05,560 –> 00:04:09,960
So why not go along with it and extend it?

65
00:04:10,440 –> 00:04:13,880
It’s like architectural judo,

66
00:04:13,960 –> 00:04:18,520
moving with the forces at play.

67
00:04:18,600 –> 00:04:21,560
We try to create elegant architecture

68
00:04:21,640 –> 00:04:26,200
which is not bound to fashions.

69
00:04:28,720 –> 00:04:32,920
It’s really the developer who decides,

70
00:04:33,000 –> 00:04:34,800
but we create timeless architecture.

71
00:04:35,480 –> 00:04:36,960
Timeless in the sense

72
00:04:37,040 –> 00:04:40,000
that I don’t want us to say in five years,

73
00:04:40,080 –> 00:04:44,400
« That building’s so 2020! »

74
00:04:46,360 –> 00:04:49,080
No we don’t want that,
we want it to last,

75
00:04:49,160 –> 00:04:52,280
or even make it seem older

76
00:04:52,360 –> 00:04:54,240
than the year it was built.

77
00:04:56,120 –> 00:05:00,840
Yes, as far as timelessness goes,
we don’t follow fashion.

78
00:05:01,160 –> 00:05:04,400
Sometimes you see
these formal flights of fancy,

79
00:05:04,480 –> 00:05:08,760
and you look at them and say, « So 2000! »

French subtitles

1
00:00:13,040 –> 00:00:15,200
La raison pour laquelle
j’ai commencé l’architecture,

2
00:00:15,280 –> 00:00:17,680
c’est un peu un accident.

3
00:00:17,760 –> 00:00:22,400
C’est parce que je voyais
que la ville m’entourait

4
00:00:22,480 –> 00:00:25,600
mais que je ne savais pas lire l’espace
et cela me posait question.

5
00:00:25,680 –> 00:00:27,720
Je ne savais pas déchiffrer,
je ne savais pas dire

6
00:00:27,800 –> 00:00:32,280
pourquoi une architecture
était bien ou pas bien,

7
00:00:32,360 –> 00:00:34,120
cela me posait question.

8
00:00:35,240 –> 00:00:38,040
C’était l’école à côté de l’erg,
Saint-Luc,

9
00:00:38,800 –> 00:00:40,320
je voyais qu’ils travaillaient fort

10
00:00:40,400 –> 00:00:42,200
et je me suis glissé
dans deux, trois cours

11
00:00:42,280 –> 00:00:46,440
et puis petit à petit, j’ai bifurqué
complètement vers l’architecture.

12
00:00:46,520 –> 00:00:51,120
Ce qui me plaît en architecture,
c’est l’espace tout simplement !

13
00:00:51,480 –> 00:00:55,640
Le caractère aussi ludique
ou labyrinthique que l’espace peut avoir.

14
00:00:56,960 –> 00:01:00,920
J’adore marcher, courir
dans les bâtiments.

15
00:01:11,440 –> 00:01:14,640
On essaie de se jouer un peu
des convenances.

16
00:01:14,720 –> 00:01:16,920
C’est une architecture plutôt protéiforme.

17
00:01:17,000 –> 00:01:21,680
Chaque projet, c’est l’occasion de faire
quelque chose de différent tout simplement

18
00:01:21,760 –> 00:01:23,720
parce que les demandes sont différentes,

19
00:01:23,800 –> 00:01:25,760
parce que les envies sont différentes.

20
00:01:28,760 –> 00:01:32,400
Ce qu’on peut retenir,
c’est qu’on a quand même une approche

21
00:01:32,680 –> 00:01:35,520
assez rationnelle et assez élémentaire
de l’architecture.

22
00:01:36,080 –> 00:01:38,680
Il faut également qu’on y trouve

23
00:01:38,760 –> 00:01:41,440
une certaine dose de plaisir,

24
00:01:41,840 –> 00:01:46,480
que ce soit le nôtre ou celui du client
ou de la maîtrise d’ouvrage.

25
00:01:46,560 –> 00:01:48,600
J’ai l’impression
qu’on fait toujours des extensions,

26
00:01:48,680 –> 00:01:50,120
même quand on fait
un nouveau bâtiment seul,

27
00:01:50,200 –> 00:01:52,640
c’est toujours une extension :
extension d’un paysage.

28
00:01:53,240 –> 00:01:55,480
Et pour cela, on n’a pas peur

29
00:01:55,560 –> 00:01:59,360
de signifier avec les formes
qu’on présente,

30
00:02:00,960 –> 00:02:02,600
de jouer sur les perceptions,

31
00:02:03,640 –> 00:02:07,440
de laisser croire que ce bâtiment
était existant alors qu’il est nouveau,

32
00:02:07,520 –> 00:02:09,200
ou de scinder l’intervention.

33
00:02:09,280 –> 00:02:10,760
On n’est pas tellement intéressés

34
00:02:10,840 –> 00:02:14,520
par l’idée de faire une forme
contemporaine ou moderne.

35
00:02:14,600 –> 00:02:16,880
On travaille sur des plans
qui sont assez réguliers,

36
00:02:16,960 –> 00:02:18,680
qui sont assez systématiques.

37
00:02:18,760 –> 00:02:21,600
L’idée est de donner une sorte de rythme

38
00:02:21,680 –> 00:02:26,320
pour endormir quasiment le visiteur
dans la répétition

39
00:02:26,400 –> 00:02:28,520
et finalement réussir
à le perdre dans l’espace.

40
00:02:30,720 –> 00:02:31,920
Ce n’est pas une fuite.

41
00:02:32,000 –> 00:02:34,080
Je veux dire que la fuite part de la tour.

42
00:02:34,560 –> 00:02:36,640
Donc, ce n’est pas un problème.
Peut-être dans la salle de la tour…

43
00:02:36,720 –> 00:02:38,760
Ah oui, on peut dire
qu’on est des artisans.

44
00:02:39,240 –> 00:02:41,760
Je préfère le terme bricoleur qu’artisan.

45
00:02:42,560 –> 00:02:46,640
Artisan, cela renvoie
vers une tradition corporatiste,

46
00:02:47,280 –> 00:02:50,320
alors que je pense que les industriels
sont tout aussi des artisans,

47
00:02:50,400 –> 00:02:52,360
quand ils inventent quelque chose,

48
00:02:54,440 –> 00:02:57,040
ils doivent toucher un marché,
ils doivent toucher des gens,

49
00:02:57,120 –> 00:03:00,800
sinon leurs trouvailles
ne sont pas opérationnelles.

50
00:03:00,880 –> 00:03:03,920
Et on doit, surtout après le XXe siècle,

51
00:03:04,000 –> 00:03:05,720
on doit composer avec l’industrie.

52
00:03:07,160 –> 00:03:10,680
Et donc, je ne suis pas non plus
dans la logique industrielle à tout prix,

53
00:03:11,160 –> 00:03:12,920
mais plutôt dans la logique du bricolage :

54
00:03:13,000 –> 00:03:17,080
savoir avec qui composer,
avec quoi composer,

55
00:03:17,160 –> 00:03:19,360
avec quels matériaux,
avec quelles entreprises.

56
00:03:26,840 –> 00:03:31,120
On pourrait parfois qualifier
notre architecture de mauvais goût,

57
00:03:33,360 –> 00:03:37,760
dans le sens où on joue
de contextes existants

58
00:03:37,840 –> 00:03:39,720
qui sont déjà plus forts

59
00:03:40,320 –> 00:03:43,000
que des nouvelles interventions
que l’on pourrait produire

60
00:03:43,080 –> 00:03:44,920
et on essaie parfois de se rattacher,

61
00:03:45,000 –> 00:03:46,400
je pense à deux projets :

62
00:03:46,480 –> 00:03:53,720
le projet de Loverval
et une extension de maison à Limal

63
00:03:54,040 –> 00:03:57,240
où on a simplement prolongé
une situation existante.

64
00:03:57,520 –> 00:04:00,360
La situation existante
était tellement forte

65
00:04:00,440 –> 00:04:05,240
qu’il était difficile d’être plus fort
que cette situation.

66
00:04:05,560 –> 00:04:09,960
Donc pourquoi ne pas la prolonger,
l’accompagner ?

67
00:04:10,440 –> 00:04:13,880
C’est plutôt une architecture de judo :

68
00:04:13,960 –> 00:04:18,520
aller dans le sens
des forces en présence.

69
00:04:18,600 –> 00:04:21,560
On essaie de faire une architecture
qui est élégante,

70
00:04:21,640 –> 00:04:26,200
qui n’est pas soumise aux modes.

71
00:04:28,760 –> 00:04:32,800
Maintenant, c’est vraiment
l’argument du promoteur,

72
00:04:32,880 –> 00:04:34,800
mais on fait
de l’architecture intemporelle.

73
00:04:35,480 –> 00:04:36,960
Intemporelle dans le sens

74
00:04:37,040 –> 00:04:40,160
où je n’ai pas envie qu’on se dise
dans cinq ans :

75
00:04:40,240 –> 00:04:44,400
« C’est un bâtiment de 2020 ! »

76
00:04:46,360 –> 00:04:49,080
Non, cela, on n’en a pas envie,
on a envie que cela perdure,

77
00:04:49,160 –> 00:04:52,280
quitte même à faire croire
qu’elle était un peu plus ancienne

78
00:04:52,360 –> 00:04:54,240
que l’année de sa construction.

79
00:04:56,120 –> 00:04:59,160
Oui, dans ce sens-là,
dans le côté intemporel,

80
00:04:59,240 –> 00:05:01,080
on ne travaille pas avec les modes.

81
00:05:01,160 –> 00:05:04,400
Parfois on voit
des élucubrations formelles

82
00:05:04,480 –> 00:05:08,760
comme cela, qui arrivent, et on dit :
« So 2000! »