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WALKING ON THE WILD SIDE
Agnès Martin, Architect
Paris 2005
France
“To believe in the world, this is what we miss the most: the world is completely lost to us, we have been deprived of it. To believe in the world also means to create events, even insignificant ones, that gets out of control, or create new space-times, even in reduced surfaces or volumes (...) it’s on the level of each attempt that the capacity of resistance or, on the contrary, submission to control may be judged.”
Deleuze In Pourparler *

Vincent Callebaut creates architecture out of pleasure. He isn’t controlled by any dogmatism that might force him to produce an architecture responding only to the techno-political terms, but propelled by a desire, the desire to create.

To go in his direction, would be the following approach; a choice to participate in international “open” contests, to have the chance to end up in an interesting contest program, to please oneself, to treat a territory and to question it, to imagine an architecture that responds to this program and to the needs of the user, but to shift this minimum (but essential) service from the architecture (meaning not reducing the architectural practice to being merely this minimum service) to make it a space open to experimentation, a place of research, thus making the architectural object something more that only a constructed reference. It’s not just an image (the image being only the support, the medium of diffusion) but rather a creation, an invention, a place where the laws of representation will have to make place for the ones of the mind. It means choosing not to take place in the architectural references and in the implicit quotations of other architects, to refuse auto-reference, to approach the architecture as something in becoming and not as something fixed, controlled, and depositary of an inevitable past.

We are, however, inclined to react to prefabricated phantasms, standardized and well-known measures. Thus, we are even dispossessed of our desires, since the desire is maintained only if a mystery still lingers. The knowledge of, or the desire to know a territory responds to the very same feeling of something unknown, that makes our senses spin, provokes our feelings, invokes a travel, the imagination and why not the adventure. It is indeed a paradox in this world of ours, where even the smallest portion of land is travelled up and down, where there seems to be no place left that hasn’t yet been exploited, that still rests unrevealed. And still, it is in these well-known places that the architecture must reveal a part of the mystery. Therefore, it’s in the investigation of the territory that the architecture will be able to express its wish to exist, to have been and to remain.

If the architecture of Vincent Callebaut might be defined as organic, it’s because of the space it generates, which is linked to an organic vision of the world. The building may, just like a living organism, transform itself, mutate, ramify, regenerate itself by its own forces and by absorbing the flows caused by the intensity of the social world, or even by undulations in the landscape, all this in the one movement. Flows are running through the building but it also creates its own. Strength and tensions respond to each other. Thus, forms and colours are generated by these movements.

The new technologies allow him to go further yet with this thought. Assisted by 3D designer software, he gives the forms, normally subjugated to rules and norms of conception, more energy. These buildings become hybrid forms, blending into a landscape without dominating it. The purpose of his tool, the synthesized image, is not to make us believe in a more realistic world. A picture reaches its target because it has a sense. The synthesized image allows him to invent his style, his architectural writing, which, whether we want it or not, imposes the authority and the life wish that every creation possesses, but however in a more relaxed way with the use of paradox, mixing of references, confrontations between the different worlds and their appearances. This might also define a frame, a working method, and produce a liberated style beyond the purely architectural references. Other shapes and laws might govern the edification of a building which, at the same time, is a territory.

Thus, Vincent Callebaut produces unusual projects, free, organic, and sometimes even zoomorphic, without neglecting a certain form of aesthetics though, which, far from being nothing more than only appealing, nevertheless questions the limits or non-limits of an architectural object. Here, the object is not a reduction of the architecture to a preconceived form, defined accordingly to the norms and pre-established standards, known and recognized. His architecture questions the vision, intrigues the senses and refers most of the time to a desire to define oneself in a territory, a fantasized projection in a new space-time, in perpetual motion.

Thus, he always questions, by our renewed and intrigued vision, (and not formatted, televised, asepticzed) a vision of a territory inhabited but not fixed. He proposes the building as a living entity, participating in the individual and social development. And since there is no space without imagination or memory, or without any direct bonds with our former behaviours and the our bodily experiences, the creative architectural use of the space encourages our minds to awaken, thanks to the movements it imposes upon the body, by the senses that it sharpens and the environment of which it’s composed.

Often, the architecture leaves no place for the hazard, absent from the thoughts of mankind. The architecture heavily frames the space, making the human presence out of place in a reality of which she nevertheless forms the actual frame. The architecture reflects the image of the society, and its criticism proposes us to look carefully upon its operations and its aberrations. Hence the wish of some architects to create buildings that might provoke dreams, poetry, the hazard and demands. It’s neither in the tensions between the different parts of the architectural object nor in the undulations of the landscape, whether it’s urban or pure, that its presence might find a signification and gain a true cultural dimension.

It’s to demonstrate ones desires to the world. It’s trying to open a gate towards the future, to join the opinion that the world is in becoming and not ending, curled up on itself. It’s giving the best of oneself, a generosity, to be in complicity with the other, it’s trying to have an opinion of ones own about our society and the world we live in (is this how people live ?), where everything that steps out of the boundaries of commonplaces seems to be prohibited.

There is no watchword, if it isn’t “resist”. Resist to everything and to oneself

*Ed de Minuit. Paris 1990. Réed. coll. « Reprise ».2003