June 30th, 2015

Festival des Architectures Vives:
Two Cities, One Theme

French cities Montpellier and La Grande Motte participate in the Festival des Architectures Vives for its 10th year running. International and national architects, urban planners and landscapers present this year’s theme: the Tenth.

Architects and related professionals organized the Festival des Architectures Vives (FAV) for its 10th year, located in Montpellier (10-14 June) and La Grande Motte (20-28 June). Two weeks of prototypes, animations, installations, themed tours and architectural experiments offered public awareness on architecture and urban issues, while highlighting the work of young architects.

Designated sites are often historical hotel courtyards located indoors, and they’re often top-free. Participants had the pleasure of adding to 10 sites in Montpellier and eight in La Grande Motte. Every year the curators, along with the jury, invite a young thriving team of architects to design the Pavilion, a welcome center for visitors. NAS Architecture, attributed the Prix du Grand Public in 2014 for its FAV installation in La Grande Motte, was in charge of this year’s Pavilion.

In 2006 FAV was established by the association CHAMP LIBRE, chaired and managed by Montpellier-based architects Elodie Nourrigat and Jacques Brion, to ensure the dissemination of architecture through cultural events.

Crossing the Border

The event has, since its foundation, reached an international level with 11 participating countries this year, opening the door to applications at the end of September. The jury, composed of architecture professionals, journalists and courtyard owners, makes its selection of 20 teams in December.

The 20 teams selected to enter are given a month and a half to construct their project proposals, taking into consideration the imposed constraints. They then present a final rendering of their project in April and the teams chosen at this point are allowed five days before the event’s opening to implement their project. While projects may vary in scale, requiring specific materials and larger quantities, the teams are all allotted the same budget.

Teams must consider the theme during the design phase. The event carries a new theme each year. Last year was Sensuality, while this year celebrates the festival’s anniversary with the theme the Tenth.

One Theme, Endless Ideas

The theme, the Tenth, was interpreted in various ways. Understanding that 2015 was FAV’s 10th year running got landscape architecture team Atelier Roberta hungry for some birthday cake. The team, Céline Aubernias, Alice Mahin and Chloé Sanson, set up the Happy Event to celebrate FAV’s anniversary, applying agar-agar, a special gelatin-like thickening agent from certain seaweeds, to make a unique cake. They poured the agar-agar on the bordered ground of the courtyard, using it as the cake’s pan. Once the liquid turned to jelly, they tossed various seeds onto the surface; corn, beans, radishes, tomatoes, lettuce, poppies etc.

“The seeds all came from the non-profit organization called Kokopelli that promote biodiversity and especially seeds that will grow into a fertile plant and their seeds can be collected to cultivate the year after,” Mahin explained to ArchiExpo. “As a huge cake we cut slices to share the young plants with everyone, to celebrate the 10th anniversary but also the birth of all those new plants. We distributed 300 slices to people who will plant those germinated seeds into gardens and pots.”

We distributed 300 slices to people who will plant those germinated seeds into gardens and pots.”

Similarly, Clémence Durupt and Gabrielle Vinson, students of architecture, filled the hotel Jacquet’s courtyard with an ephemeral ceiling from which confetti dangles. Their installation Entre Temps resembled a playful hourglass ready to be flipped over again in preparation for the following ten years. As a way to mark time, the installation DI-X was based on the symbolic form of an X. The Paris-Montpellier team made a sculpture that reflects movements and creates new shapes and colors.

Momento by Italian Nicola Lorusso and Austrian Michele Realis Luc showed the theme through the need for reflection. They created a 3-D object made of courtyard experiments from the past nine editions, involving strings, cubes, spheres, stools, cones, monitors, panels, balls and frameworks. Other installations seemed less linked to the theme itself, but were appealing. The Cloudscape formed an architectural piece made of thin metal sheets, offering subtle movements and resonating wind and temperature changes.

Sitting on top the Pavilion

FAV cordially invited the creators of last year’s most-liked installation, the Breath Box by NAS Architecture, to design the welcome pavilion for the event. The structure needed to serve as an information center, provide the starting point for visitors and be the location for public voting for the best installation and awards ceremony.

Hadrien Balalud de Saint Jean, Johan Laure and Guillaume Giraud launched NAS (Network Architecture System) Architecture in 2013. They advocate designing living spaces that meet contemporary expectations of a constantly evolving society. The Breath Box of 2014, constructed at La Grande Motte, was inventive, convenient and appropriate for its environment. Johan Laure sits on top the pavilion with ArchiExpo to discuss the festival’s purpose, who’s involved, how to participate and gives more insight on NAS Architecture. Watch the video.


NAS Architecture interview

Myspace ArchiExpo

Erin Tallman

By Erin Tallman

Erin Tallman, writer and current Online Managing Editor of ArchiExpo e-magazine, brings innovative information back to her readers. Her first literary work, Imperfections, was published 2 May 2014 and she continues publishing short stories on her artisty blog. She also acts as reporter during special events, including the Milan Design Week.

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