Drawing the Correspondence between an Architecture of Appearance and an Architecture of Economy

Leave a comment

Drawing the Correspondence between an Architecture of Appearance and an Architecture of Economy


Jacques Benoit
Master project, Pr. Kersten Geers (Office KGDVS), Pr. Andrea Zanderigo (Baukuh), Pr. Nicola Braghieri (Ex-M) and the Pr. Michael Jakob.

Project: Museîon_A reinvestigation on the Très Grande Bibliothèque’s case

In 1989, the project of a new building to house the National Library of France was taking shape. The Très Grande Bibliothèque had to be a monumental and symbolic object to allow the development of Tolbiac district, still nonexistent at the time. Today, the role of the National Library of France has been transformed, firstly, in its role as a physical library at the digital era and secondly, in its relationship with the urban environment, now developed. This is why I chose to reinvestigate the subject of the National Library of France in order to imagine a contemporary project, and this, through the collage as a design tool.
One of the main interests of the project of the National Library of France is to design both the monument and the city that surrounds it, one inducing the another, and vice versa. The project is not simply an architectural project, but also an infrastructural and urbanistic project. It seeks to embody the quintessence of the public building and rediscover the idea of a building as a social condenser. Following on from my theoretical research, foreplay – A short account of three millennia of entrances, the project proposes a thorough study of thresholds and sequences required by such a library, which can only be a plural institution. An Atrium Paradisus partakes of the Parisian’s void archipelago; this space mediates between the profane exterior and the sacred interior. This habitat for the flâneur is a third place for Paris that, via a set of thresholds, brings together ostentatiousness and serenity, communication and preservation, the public and the intimate, and the fugitive and the immutable.


Who influences you graphically?

Where to start… So many very different images are hovering somewhere above me whilst I am representing my projects. As I am quite old-fashioned, I would start with the one-point perspectives of Piero della Francesca, which are very important for me. They are linked in my head to the work of my former teacher Arduino Catafora (with Aldo Rossi).
Regarding the framing and the composition, the relation between Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus, Titian’s Venus of Urbino and Manet’s Olympia has always been a strong inspiration for me.
As I have a penchant for the collage technique, I draw inspiration in the “superarchitects” of the 50s-70s as Alice and Peter Smithson, Hans Hollein, Yona Friedman, Archigram, Superstudio and Archizoom. Added to the list, this great generation of artists such as Gordon Matta-Clark, John Baldessari, David Hockney and Ed Ruscha.
It is maybe less evident in the final images but I can’t forget architects as Hans Kollhoff, Rem Koolhaas, Bernard Tschumi, John Hejduk and James Stirling, which bring me a massive amount of ideas.
Finally, needless to say I am also influenced by today’s fancy offices: Dogma, Point Supreme, Productora, Office KGDVS, Baukuh, Office MMX, NP2F, Sam Jacob, 51N4E, Fala Atelier, Point Supreme, Monadnock, Yellowoffice, 2A+P/A, Valter Scelsi and so on.


To what extent do you think the project might be perceived differently if collage had not been used as a tool to reinforce the reimagining of the National library in contemporary days?

The process of collage is the concept of the whole project. The use of collage belongs to the project and cannot be remove. The images help to understand the essence of the project. The one with the “un-cutout” pigeon claims the act of collage in itself and therefore arouses a reflection upon the project.


What dictated the choice of materiality? 

The project is divided into two different parts. Firstly, the Atrium Paradisus is a very precise (and almost bling-bling) architecture adorned with red marble. It represents the entrance of the French National Library and shines between the other buildings. Then, the different edifices of the library find their importance in the relation they have with the Atrium Paradisus. These buildings are thinking in order to have the opportunity to evolve with the time and trends, some are more anchored in the city while some are light, almost industrial. They are conceived with a reduced vocabulary of shapes and material, with an “economy of means” as might say ma teacher Kersten Geers.
This correspondence between an architecture of appearance and an architecture of economy brings together ostentatiousness and serenity as a strong quality for a National Library.


What is the effect and purpose of rendering the people as monochromatic images from another era?

I like to put monochromatic people in my images for different reasons. They are not my project, they are just people hanging around. I do not design them so they have to be treated in contrast with the project. Then, these people are references from films connected with Paris or with architecture (as Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari) or sometimes they are just here for fun (Simone de Beauvoir on the Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir).

How do the specific views reveal different aspects of the proposal?

The four first views express the movement in the city. How the library acts in the city. They represent the promenade architecturale of the Parisian flâneur through the library. The two last ones are very different; two classical one-point perspectives, which are almost frozen.  They reveal the precision of the architecture in the Atrium Paradisus, and how it relates the different parts of the library.


Benoît Jacques_7

Benoît Jacques_5Benoît Jacques_1Benoît Jacques_2Benoît Jacques_3Benoît Jacques_4Benoît Jacques_6Benoît Jacques_8


Benoît Jacques is a French architect graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, with a year exchange abroad at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona.

After an internship at EM2N Architekten in Zürich, he started his Master’s degree under the supervision of Harry Gugger (of the Laboratory Basel) with a project of an underground cemetery; project that has been published in the Tages Anzeiger, Neue Zürcher Zeitung and in the Archizoom BestOf 2014.

He then successfully completed his Master’s thesis and project with the reinvestigation on the Très Grande Bibliothèque’s case under the supervision of Kersten Geers (Office KGDVS) and Andrea Zanderigo (Baukuh), for which he was awarded the highest grade (6/6).

Benoît is now working in his virtual office, ἈΝΑΛΟΓΊΑ, between France and Switzerland.



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.