Au-delà, a Game of Contrasts
The project is called “Au-delà” which is a French word that has a double meaning : on the one hand it can be used to talk about a place somewhere further something while on the other hand it’s also an expression that express the idea of another world above us (a kind of spiritual and infinite world). The project is based upon contrasts : the serenity of the program v/s the intense urban atmosphere of the context, the exterior radicality v/s the intern domesticity, etc
The problematic was double because as I created a spatial and spiritual link between Paris and its close Northern suburb (Saint Denis). I chose to build this above the fracture of the boulevard périphérique (which is a quite relevant issue of Paris actuality) and then I worked on the question of the sacred/spiritual that could embody the symbol of the link of territories. The issue of the religious isn’t based on some real religions but is more about the religious as an universal concept that each one of us interprets as he feels it. And this sentiment can, for me, bound people because spirituality is the one concept that create a affinities between all beliefs. I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty and power people had to express in religious buildings/spaces. This issue is also important to me because of the recent tragic events that occurred in Paris and elsewhere.
The project is composed of various levels :
– 9m below the ground : Multi spiritual and common space surrounded by more intimate prayer/contemplation spaces
– 1st level (+8m) : Gate between Paris and Saint Denis
– 2nd level (+12m) : Museum of the religious
– 3rd level (+16m): Center of research on the questions of spirituality and religions
4rd level (+20m) : Cloister and housing for the workers of the 3rd level or people in search of spirituality
Who influences you graphically?
Graphically I find inspiration in the work of artists such as Agnès Martin, Barnett Newman or Sol Lewitt. I’m fascinated by lines and cinetism in general, and these artists play with space and its limits with lots of subtlety and I find that really interesting. For collages, I love to look at Edward Hopper’s work before working on my own, I love the power he expresses with such rawness in its paintings. I also find inspiration in the fineness of Atelier Bow-Wow’s production and the energy of Superstudio’s collages. I also love antic maps.
How does the theme of contrast on which the project is built explored graphically?
Contrast is a main theme for me, I reckon contrast is a real tool to express anything we want with strength. I mean, spatially. For this project, indeed, it helped me to define spaces, atmospheres, but graphically I tried to express things on one level so contrasts could release themselves. I think contrast is understandable if the two concepts put in opposition are treated the same.
You talk about spirituality and the beauty of spiritual spaces- how did you interpret and translate this within the way you chose to represent your proposal?
This is a tough one! It was really difficult to handle this issue during this project. Beauty is a hard thing to express, even more when it deals with spirituality. It’s also really subjective. I tried to work without too much ornamentation. The spaces I imagined were quite raw and I thought that my collages should express this (as Eduardo Chillida for his project of the Mont Tindaya). But I think my collages lack of some subtlety that could make them more seductive. Less cold at least.
What is the effect and purpose of a monochromatic palette?
The monochromatic palette helps me to focus on the purpose of each document. It’s too easy to lie with colors. I like the fact that black is neutral and that you can express anything with it. It also very powerful and I try to use this strength to amplify contrasts, meanings, etc. I adore the photographs of Henri Cartier Bresson. He used perspective, proportions, lines, angles to express strong atmospheres in black and white!
How does the round format help in delineating the views and what you choose to reveal?
The round format is also a tool. As I use the monochromatic palette to focus on the purpose of a document, I use circles for the dynamics you can create within it. I like the fact that circles don’t have angles, the central point of the round format is a tool to make people look at what you’re pointing.
Antoine Lachaux graduated as an architect in July 2016 in the Parisian school of La Villette.