Renew and regenerate

Pritzker Prize 2021

Remodeling instead of demolishing is the philosophy of the French architectural duo Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal. Sustainability, often implemented with simple means and always with an ear for the needs of the users, Lacaton & Vassal have created architecture that impress with their openness and brightness. With various projects, the architects have also proven that social housing can be of very high quality. Lacaton & Vassal were justifiably awarded the most important architecture prize, the Pritzker Prize 2021. Incidentally, hot dip galvanized steel is one of the winners’ preferred materials. Three examples show the philosophy of Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal.

Cap Ferret House

The private house built in 1998 at Cap Ferret on one of the last vacant lots shows the architects’ reverence for what is there. It was built with the aim of minimal disruption to the natural environment. Instead of cutting 46 pine trees on the property, the house was designed in and around the natural vegetation and erected on 12 hot dip galvanized steel supports. A hot dip galvanized steel structure forms the supporting structure of the house. The Cap Ferret house has special openings that accommodate the movement and growth of the trees that cross it and allow residents to live amidst the vegetation.


Photo © Philippe Ruault

Photo © Lacaton & Vassal

Social housing in Saint-Nazaire

In 2011, Lacaton & Vassal converted a social housing complex from the 1960s in the French city of Saint-Nazaire. The residential complex consists of a total of 53 units, which are housed in a series of three-story buildings. The apartments now include private gardens on the ground floor and balconies or conservatories for the apartments on the upper floors. By using transparent, retractable polycarbonate panels on a hot dip galvanized steel structure and insulating curtains in the interior, the architects have created a comfortable, light-flooded environment that provides an ecological and economic solution.

Photo © Philippe Ruault

Art centre FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais

Instead of demolishing a huge shipyard building in the port area of the French city of Dunkirk, Lacaton & Vassal decided, in 2013, to build a second building that is the same size and shape as the first. The transparent construction allows an unobstructed view through the new building to the old one. The old shipyard hall has been converted into a management space for events to be held in the new building. This includes visiting art exhibitions, office space and storage rooms for contemporary art. Hot dip galvanized steel was used throughout the new building including the substructure for the transparent façade.

1 | French architectural duo Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal were awarded the Pritzer Prize 2021.

2 | Cap Ferret House was designed in and around the natural vegetation and erected on 12 hot dip galvanized steel supports.

3 | New private gardens and balconies have helped create high quality space for existing social housing.

4 | Instead of tearing down a huge shipyard building careful restoration has helped to regenerate the port area.

Architect:  Lacaton & Vassal

Image: Laurent Chalet, Lacaton & Vassal, Philippe Ruault

Posted on December 15, 2021 by Galvanizers Association

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