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Pierre Lallemand is a founding partner at Art & Build Architects. Today, he works alone to find consistency in his work as a painter, model maker and inventor. He defines the architecture as the materialization of a thought, a reflection, a will and an intention.

Pierre Lallemand
Pierre Lallemand & Parners

pierrelallemand.eu
info@plpa.eu

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

French Subtitles

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J’ai fait mes études d’architecture

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à l’Académie des Beaux-Arts.

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J’ai commencé à travailler
chez André Jacquemin.

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C’était une période assez épouvantable.

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Et je suis allé ensuite en Italie

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puis aux États-Unis.

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Et je suis revenu en Belgique
faire mon service militaire.

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Et pendant mon service militaire,
j’ai dessiné des luminaires

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et 15 jours après ma démobilisation

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j’ai fait une exposition à la Fondation
pour l’Architecture.

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Et puis on est venu me chercher
pour fonder Art & Build,

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enfin mes associés de l’époque.

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La cohérence de mon travail
ne se retrouvait pas

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chez Art & Build, c’est-à-dire
tout ce que je faisais en peinture

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tout ce que je faisais en bicyclette,

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tout ce que je faisais…

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dans mes maquettes
d’architectures possibles

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ont toutes toujours été exogènes
à Art & Build.

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Il n’y avait pas de volonté

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de mes partenaires de l’époque

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d’intégrer ça au sein de…

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du bureau d’architecture.

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Or, pour moi, c’est fondamental.

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C’est quelque chose qui est essentiel,

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cette indivisibilité

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de mes activités.

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On ne peut pas, je ne peux pas
m’empêcher de penser, de réfléchir

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et d’acter et de réaliser.

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Pour ces raisons, j’ai quitté Art & Build.

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J’en garde évidemment
un souvenir extrêmement…

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extrêmement fort

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et enthousiaste.

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Mais aujourd’hui,
j’ai le sentiment d’une…

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d’une très, très grande liberté
en termes conceptuels

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parce qu’il n’y a plus de pression

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en termes de…

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de chiffre d’affaires,
je pense que c’est un luxe

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extraordinaire que je peux
à la fois m’offrir et offrir

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au maître de l’ouvrage,

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parce que quand je travaille
pour l’un ou pour l’autre

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c’est sans équivoque

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et c’est total.

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L’architecte a besoin
de la commande et du vis-à-vis

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du maître de l’ouvrage.

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Par exemple, on peut assimiler
à un peintre du XVIIe

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qui a pour objet de peindre des portraits.

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Et donc à la fois,

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le tableau doit représenter
la personne en question

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mais peut être soit un chef d’œuvre,
soit une croûte.

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Et donc tout l’art du…

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du créateur réside dans la manière.

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Un jour, il y a un grand collectionneur

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qui est venu me poser la question :
« Qu’est-ce qu’un artiste? »

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Il m’a dit : « C’est quelqu’un
qui a une vie d’artiste. »

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Alors est-ce que je suis
un artiste, peut-être.

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En tous les cas, l’architecture

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est une activité extrêmement chronophage

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et dès qu’on y met le doigt

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on est happé comme
dans la broyeuse de chocolat

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de Marcel Duchamp.

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C’est-à-dire qu’on n’en échappe plus

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et donc ça devient
quelque chose d’omniprésent.

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Lorsqu’on a un dossier d’architecture,

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qui sont des dossiers toujours
extrêmement complexes,

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on se réveille et on s’endort
avec ces préoccupations.

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Les bâtiments, je les conçois un peu

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comme ces tableaux, ces maquettes.

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Ce sont des sculptures.

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Des sculptures habitables,
des sculptures…

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d’activités.

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Celles-ci s’intègrent toujours
dans un contexte premier,

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c’est-à-dire, quand on conçoit ici

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en haut de la rue le bâtiment Solvay,

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ce bâtiment ne pourrait pas se trouver
à Djibouti,

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il est bruxellois.

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Il est belge, il est…

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Il est relatif à l’activité
qui est dedans.

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L’architecture est quelque part
la matérialisation

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d’une pensée, d’une réflexion

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et d’une volonté aussi,

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et d’une intention.

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Et le dessin, ou le croquis,
en est la première matérialisation.

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Aujourd’hui, avec tous les outils
que nous avons de manière informatique

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que nous utilisons évidemment
avec assiduité,

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il y a une densité dans le geste du crayon

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qui est plus profonde que dans le reflet

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d’une séduction qui apparaît à l’écran
de manière assez immédiate.

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Je crois que l’architecte

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est quelqu’un, est un artiste parfois,

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de circonstance, toujours.

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C’est-à-dire qu’on n’existe
qu’au travers d’une commande.

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En tant que structuraliste,

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en tous les cas,

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c’est une de mes préoccupations
fondamentales,

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c’est qu’on répond toujours à un contexte.

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Et le contexte est bien au-delà

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de la préoccupation physique.

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C’est une préoccupation
tout aussi culturelle,

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que historique, que…

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que constructiviste.

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On n’a pas de matériaux de prédilection,

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enfin, qui me…

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enfin que j’utiliserais
de manière systématique.

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Je crois qu’un matériau est
un des paramètres qui répond

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à la préoccupation architecturale

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et qui résulte elle-même
d’une programmation

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et d’une contextualisation dans lesquelles
les choses doivent se faire.

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Je pense qu’il faut être ouvert
à tous les matériaux,

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que ce soient les anciens matériaux,
les nouveaux matériaux,

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que ce soit pour faire un vélo
ou pour construire un immeuble.

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Les vélos qui sont ici,

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ce sont des formes nouvelles
qui résultent de matériaux

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que j’ai trouvés dans un chantier naval
qui étaient des petits blocs de balsa.

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Et puis de là, j’ai fait un vélo.

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Ce vélo, la plastique du vélo,
est le résultat

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d’un matériau qui n’avait
jamais été utilisé

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pour ce type d’usage.

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Je crois aussi que la finalité
de l’architecture,

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elle est faite pour…

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pour le bien de tous.

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Que ce soit aussi bien pour l’occupant

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que pour le passant.

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Que tous les éléments aujourd’hui
que l’on absorbe

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comme tous les aspects environnementaux,

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toutes ces préoccupations,

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elle doit être tournée
vers le plaisir de l’existence.

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C’est une finalité qu’il faut toujours

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avoir en perspective parce que…

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on ne fait pas des machines à habiter,

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on ne fait pas des machines à travailler

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ou à occupation.

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La dignité de l’homme passe

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par la qualité des lieux dans lesquels

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il existe.

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Il n’y a pas non plus une architecture,
il y a des architectures

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mais il y a un principe ou une méthode

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ou un process de pensée
qui, lui, est récurrent.

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Et ce process de pensée est…

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En Belgique on a
cette chance extraordinaire

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d’être entre deux mouvements de pensée
à mon sens très différents

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qui est une pensée inductive,

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qui est une pensée toute britannique.

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Et la pensée déductive

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qui est plutôt française.

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Et nous on a cette faculté
de passer de l’un à l’autre

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avec une très grande aisance,

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et qui nous permet

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de faire des architectures

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très singulières et très complexes.

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Quand on parle
de l’intégration à Bruxelles,

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c’est un leurre
parce que s’intégrer à quoi ?

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S’intégrer à…
certains diront à un chaos,

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d’autres parleraient de diversité
ou de multiplicité.

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C’est toujours une approche
qui doit être extrêmement sensible.

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Qui est de dire : « Voilà, on a un bâtiment
là comme ceci, là comme ceci. »

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Et donc soit on se met
en pivot entre deux,

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soit on fond l’un et l’autre dans un…

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dans un caramel mou.

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Mais c’est une
de nos grandes spécificités,

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en tout cas des architectes belges.

English Subtitles

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I studied architecture

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at the Academy of Fine Arts.

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I started working for André Jacquemin.

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It was quite a terrible time.

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And then I went to Italy

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then to the USA.

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I returned to Belgium
to do my military service.

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And during my military service,
I designed lights

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and 15 days after my demobilization,

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I did an exhibition
at the foundation for architecture.

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Then I came to found Art & Build,

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with my associates at the time.

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The consistency of my work
wasn’t established

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at Art & Build.

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Meaning, everything I did in painting,

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or on a bicycle,

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everything I did…

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in my models of possible architectures,

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always came from outside Art & Build.

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There was no willingness,

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by my partners at the time,

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to integrate that into…

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the architectural firm.

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For me, it’s fundamental.

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This indivisibility

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is essential

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in my activities.

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We can’t, I can’t help
thinking, reflecting

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acting and carrying it out.

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For these reasons, I left Art & Build.

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I obviously have very memories that are…

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very powerful

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and enthusiastic.

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But today, I have the feeling of…

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a very, very great freedom
in conceptual terms,

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because there is no more pressure

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in terms of…

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of turnover.
I think it’s an extraordinary luxury

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that I can offer, both to myself,

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and to the client,

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because when I work for one or the other,

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it’s unequivocal

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and it’s total.

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The architect needs the control,

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and so does the client.

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For example, we can liken it
to a painter in the 17th Century

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who aims to paint portraits.

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And so at the same time,

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the painting must represent
the person in question

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but can be either a masterpiece or trash.

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And so all the art of…

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the creator lies in the style.

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One day, there was a major collector

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who came and asked me:
« What is an artist? »

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He told me,
« He is someone who has an artist’s life. »

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So am I an artist? Maybe.

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In any case, architecture

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is an extremely time-consuming activity

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as soon as you put your finger to it

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you are caught like in Marcel Duchamp’s

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chocolate grinder.

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You can’t escape it anymore,

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so it becomes something ubiquitous.

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When you have an architecture file,

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which are always extremely complex files,

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you wake up and go to asleep
worrying about it.

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I see the buildings a little

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like these paintings, these models.

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they are sculptures.

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Habitable sculptures, sculptures…

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of activities.

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These always fit in a first context,

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that is to say, when we build here

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the Solvay building
at the top of the street,

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this building could not
be placed in Djibouti,

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it’s a Brussels building.

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It’s Belgian, it’s…

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It’s relative to the activity
that takes place in it.

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Architecture is partly the materialization

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of a thought, a reflection,

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and willingness too,

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and an intention.

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And the design, or sketch,
is the first materialization.

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Today, with all the tools
we have on a computer,

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that we use diligently and regularly,

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there is a density that
comes from using a pencil

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that is deeper than in the seductive flash

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that appears on the screen immediately.

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I believe that architects

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are sometimes artists,

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always circumstantially.

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Meaning, that exists only
by means of commands.

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As a structuralist,

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in any case,

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that’s one of my fundamental concerns,

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that we always respond to the context.

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And the context goes

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far beyond the physical concern.

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It’s equally a cultural,

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historical and…

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creative concern.

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We don’t have any material of choice,

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which…

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which I would use systematically.

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I believe that a material
is one of the parameters

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that responds
to the architectural concern,

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and that results from a programming

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and a contextualization
in which things must be done.

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I think you have to be open
to all materials,

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whether old materials or new materials,

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whether to make a bike
or construct a building.

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The bikes that are here,

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are new forms resulting from materials

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that I found in a shipyard,
small blocks of balsa.

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And then from there, I made a bike.

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This bike, the plastic on the bike,
is the result

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of a material
that had never been used before

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for this type of use.

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I also believe that
the purpose of architecture,

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it’s for…

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it’s for the good of all.

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Both for the occupant,

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as well as the passer-by.

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All the elements that we absorb today

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as all environmental aspects,

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all these concerns,

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must revolve around
the pleasure of existence.

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This is a purpose that must always

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be in perspective because…

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we don’t make machines to live,

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we don’t make machines to work

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or for occupations.

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The dignity of man

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comes from the quality of the places

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in which he exists.

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There is no longer one architecture,
there are many architectures,

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but there is a principle or a method

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or a recurrent thought process.

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And this thought process is…

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In Belgium, we have
this extraordinary chance

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to have two movements of thought,
very different in my opinion,

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inductive thought,

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which is a very British thought,

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and deductive thinking,

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which is more French.

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And we have this ability
to switch from one to another

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with great ease,

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and that allows us

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to make architecture that is

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very singular and complex.

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When we talk about
integration in Brussels,

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it’s a trick. Integrating with what?

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Integrating… some will say with chaos,

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others talk about
diversity or multiplicity.

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It’s always an approach
that must be extremely sensitive.

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That is to say: « We have a building there
like this, like that. »

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Either we start to pivot between the two,

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or we merge each one into a…

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like a soft caramel.

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But that’s one of our special features,

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very typical of Belgian architects.