The Charleroi-based firm Réservoir A is one of the ten craft architecture firms that caviar.archi has decided to portray in film. Julien Dailly tells 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?

Julien Dailly
Réservoir A

www.reservoira.org
info@reservoira.org

Technical sheet of this architecture video clip
Journalist : Emma C. Dessouroux
Cameraman : Emanuel Pinto / EpiProd – 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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Reservoir A was created
by three friends who are architects

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and who wanted to change
the city of Charleroi,

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improve the architecture,

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construction, and public spaces
in this city of ours

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during a time of political change
in Charleroi.

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There were no big private projects,

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let’s say group housing projects,
for example,

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because there was
no real estate pressure at all.

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Nobody did private housing projects
in Charleroi.

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This lasted five or six years,

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and so our desire was
to get into the public market

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and that’s what we did.

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That worked out fine,
because that’s all there was,

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so for five or six years
we competed for everything,

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absolutely all public markets
that were within a radius

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of even 50 kilometers around the city.

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We tried everything.
We competed in all the contests.

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We won a few, thankfully,

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and Charleroi has gradually diversified,

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and so have we, out of necessity,

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with clients who are starting to come
to develop the city,

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following the efforts
that have also been made

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by the public, we can say.

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There’s a follow-up to that,
and it’s being revived,

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so suddenly,
private developers are coming

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to do housing projects, etc.

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Why did I get into architecture?

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At the time, I was 18 years old,

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and it was something…

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You don’t know what architecture is about.

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When you want to get into architecture,

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you think that…

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I thought it was…
It’s a bit naïve, but fair enough,

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that it was something
that mixed a lot of skills,

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both creative, technical, and …

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and intellectual work
that was exciting for me.

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In any case, that’s how I saw it,
and that’s what it is, in fact.

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That’s what was in my mind at the time
as a 18-year-old kid.

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But today, it’s still work
that blends architecture

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with other things…

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beauty, structure…

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technique… It’s all there.

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My definition of architecture?

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Mine?

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Architecture can be a thousand things.

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It can really be a thousand things,

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and I think you can look at any photo
of any architectural project

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and say that’s architecture,
for such-and-such reason,

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and move on to another project,
another image,

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and it’s something else.

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We can’t have definitions,

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or a classical definition,

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yes, they exist, but we can say that…

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It’s more interesting to say

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that it’s an open definition
that changes with each project.

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Context takes precedence over skill,

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and in any project
there is always something appealing,

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so above all, there is…

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People often say about Reservoir A

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that we are a bit too conventional, but…

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because we use shapes, colors,

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and things which are quite visible.

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But I think that’s within the context,

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the human and physical context,

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and obviously the projects,
the starting point.

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I think the projects are evolving.

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At first we worked a lot
with bright colors,

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that was…

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related to my experiences,

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and also that of my partner at the time,

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because I worked for a few years
for Jean Glibert in Brussels.

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I think something carried over

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from all the work I had done
during ten years with him.

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But today, I think we’re slowly heading
towards a lot more…

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restraint, not that Jean’s work
wasn’t restrained, obviously, but…

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the materials, in any case,
are what they are.

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It’s not on camera,
but just behind us

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there is a raw cork facade.

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It’s a material used to renovate a house.

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That’s the kind of material
that you can touch, feel.

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We know what it is,
and it’s a natural hue,

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it’s a natural grain.

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That’s what we’re heading for,

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whereas before, with the colors,

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it was often
the finishing layer, the paint,

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that sort of thing
which gave it the main look.

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Here, we try to avoid that,

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and work more and more

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with restrained colors as well,
inevitably. There you go.

French Subtitles

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Réservoir A est né d’un rassemblement
de trois copains architectes

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qui voulaient un peu changer
la ville de Charleroi,

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enfin, améliorer un peu l’architecture,

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le cadre bâti, les espaces publics
de cette ville qui était la nôtre, et…

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à une époque où Charleroi était
en train de changer politiquement.

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Il n’y avait pas du tout
de projets privés de taille…

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on va dire, de projet
de logements groupés, par exemple,

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puisqu’il n’y avait pas du tout
de pression foncière.

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Personne ne venait pour faire
un projet privé de logement à Charleroi.

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Ça, ça a duré bien cinq ou six ans,

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et donc, notre volonté, de toute manière,
de faire du marché public,

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et c’est ce qu’on faisait,

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et ça tombait bien,
parce qu’il n’y avait que ça,

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et donc, pendant cinq ou six ans,
on a répondu à des concours,

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absolument à tous les marchés publics
qui sortaient dans un périmètre de…

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même de 50 km autour de la ville.

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On répondait à tout, tout, tout.
On faisait tous les concours.

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On en a gagné quelques-uns,
heureusement, et…

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et puis progressivement,
Charleroi s’est diversifié

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et par la force des choses, nous aussi.

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Avec des clients qui commencent à venir
pour développer la ville,

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suite aux efforts
qui ont été faits aussi…

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par le public, on va dire.

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Il y a une suite à ça

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et c’est en train de revivre, quoi, donc,

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tout à coup,
les promoteurs privés arrivent

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pour faire des projets de logement,
des choses comme ça.

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Pourquoi j’ai voulu faire
de l’architecture ?

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Eh bien, à l’époque, on a 18 ans,

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c’est quelque chose d’un peu…

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Tu sais pas ce que c’est du tout,
l’architecture.

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Quand tu veux faire de l’architecture…

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tu penses que…

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Je pense que, c’était assez juste,
un peu naïvement mais assez juste,

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c’était quelque chose qui brassait
énormément de compétences,

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à la fois créatives, techniques et…

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et un travail aussi intellectuel
qui était excitant pour moi.

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En tout cas, je le voyais comme ça
et c’est ce que c’est, en fait.

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Voilà, à l’époque, c’était dans la tête
d’un gamin de 18 ans mais…

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aujourd’hui, ça reste un travail
de synthèse, l’architecture, entre…

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entre des choses…

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la beauté, la structure…

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la technique… Tout est là, quoi.

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Ma définition de l’architecture ?

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La mienne ?

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C’est… L’architecture,
ça peut être mille choses, je pense.

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Ça peut être vraiment mille choses,
et je pense que tu peux…

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Tu peux regarder n’importe quelle photo
de n’importe quel projet d’architecture

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et dire voilà, l’architecture, c’est ça…
pour telle raison,

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et passer à un autre projet,
une autre image,

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et ça va être autre chose.

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Donc, je pense pas
qu’on puisse faire une définition,

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ou alors une définition classique,

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oui, elles existent,
mais on va dire que…

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Je pense que c’est plus intéressant
de se dire que ça reste

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une définition ouverte
qui va changer à chaque projet.

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C’est le contexte qui prime sur le geste,

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et il y a toujours en tout projet aussi
une part de séduction

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donc il y a de tout, en fait, il y a…

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On dit souvent que Réservoir A,
ceux qui parlent un peu de nous,

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sont un peu trop formalistes, mais…

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parce qu’on utilise peut-être
des formes, de la couleur,

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et des choses, voilà,
qui sont assez visibles.

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Mais je pense que ça reste
le contexte, oui, évidemment,

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le contexte humain
et le contexte physique,

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évidemment, des projets,
le point de départ.

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Je pense qu’il y a une évolution
dans les projets.

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Au début, on a travaillé beaucoup
avec de la couleur vive,

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ça, c’était…

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lié à mon expérience à moi,

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et aussi à celle
de mon associé de l’époque,

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parce que j’ai travaillé quelques années
pour Jean Glibert à Bruxelles.

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Je pense qu’il y avait, voilà,
quelque chose qui transpirait

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de tout ce travail que j’avais fait
pendant dix ans avec lui.

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Mais aujourd’hui,
je pense qu’on va tout doucement

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vers beaucoup plus de…

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de sobriété, non pas que le travail
de Jean ne soit pas sobre,

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évidemment, mais…

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mais des matériaux, en tout cas,
qui sont ce qu’ils sont.

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Enfin, on le verra pas à la caméra,
mais juste derrière nous,

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il y a une façade en liège brut.

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C’est un matériau qu’on a utilisé
pour la rénovation d’une maison.

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Voilà, c’est le genre de matériau,
aujourd’hui, qu’on peut toucher, sentir.

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On sait ce que c’est,
et c’est la teinte naturelle,

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c’est le grain naturel.

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C’est vers ça qu’on va de plus en plus,

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alors qu’avant, avec les couleurs,

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on était souvent
dans la couche de finition,

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la peinture, ce genre de chose
qui donnait l’aspect principal.

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Ici, on essaie d’éviter ça,

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et de travailler de plus en plus
avec des couleurs sobres, aussi,

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du coup, fatalement. Voilà.