A Contextual Metaphor

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Colour, Students, Texture

A Contextual Metaphor 

Oriane Jan, Mathilde Meurice & Andie van Arkel 


The project takes root on a small protected island, that they nicknamed “l’île de la Chevallerais” in reference to the village in which it is located. The building is the result of a contextual metaphor, inspired by the elements that surround the site : suburban houses, old trees, pasture land.
A nautical centre, an equestrian centre and a cafe take place on the first floor in a wooden building, completely adjustable in accordance with the weather and uses. The first floor hosts a hostel, oriented towards both the wood and the canal, offering remarkable views on the landscape. The hostel shared living room is covered by polycarbonate, which makes it look like a lightning bug in the wood when the night falls. This project
is imbued with the context and yet still utopian. That is why they decided to represent it in a unrealistic way. After many tests, they finally managed to express the project’s universe and its atmosphere. They created the images as real illustrations, using a childish and colourful language.
The aim was to express cheerfulness and simplicity. As for the plans, sections and axonometric view, they decided to use different tones of grey only and a lot of hatching to represent each element (trees, grass, water, wood, etc.), referring sometimes to old tapestry pattern. To do so, they were inspired by contemporary architects such as Ecole (France) or FALA (Portugal) but also photographer, illustrators and painters.



Who influences you graphically?

Many people and movements influence us : painters, illustrators but also photographers and of course architects. The three of us appreciate the apparent simplicity of Luigi Ghirri’ photographs as much as the enthousiasm conveyed by Archigram’s collages. What’s more, architecture practices such as NP2F, Duggan Morris Architects, Ecole or SANAA, are a major source of inspiration for us. The Portuguese practice Fala and their naive graphic style, and also the Japanese Atelier Bow Wow and their inhabited sections have particularly influenced us on this proposal.

What is the effect and purpose of using a monochromatic palette for drawings as the plan and section?

First of all, the aim of using a monochromatic palette for plans and sections was to distinguish them from the colorful perspective views which reflect the atmosphere of the project. We wanted the plans and sections to point out the foreseeable uses and the organisation with a lot of details. The point of using a monochromatic palette is to make the observant look close to the drawings and search for these details. Using only several tones of grey was also a rule that we set in the first place. This rule forced us to diversify symbols and hatching, as if we had to draw plans and sections with one single pencil.

To what extent does the selection of a specific colour palette reflect the atmosphere of the proposal?

The selection of a specific colour palette is not neutral. We believe that colors have the power to bring back memories and to remind the spectator of old sensations, feelings. The idea here was to opt for a colour palette modelled on the  place that we imagined : playful, overflowing with energy and cheerfulness. To do so,  we selected a range of bright contrasting colours evoking a childish and naive universe. This choice reinforce the unrealistic look of the proposal, allowing the spectator to imagine freely the possibilities of the project.


What dictated the choice of graphic style for the figures? How does their playfulness influence the way the architecture is perceived?

Above all, our goal was to manage through the figures to tell a story, as a graphic novel or a comic, and to carry the spectator away. To do so we did not want to opt for a realistic style. Instead, we chose a simple and childish style, referring to collage and freehand drawing.
Their playfulness plunge the spectator into a joyful and imaginary world, instead of a fake reality. We think that in this way architecture might be perceived in a more positive and poetic way, deprived of any kind of commercial value.

How did you decide to frame specific moments? Did you have any specific parameters when thinking about the perspective views and what they had to convey?

Since the building is dedicated to tourism and leisure activities, we decided to put ourselves in a visitor’s shoes to frame specific moments. We imagined ourselves walking around the building and taking pictures of some specific places.
Moreover we wanted the views to show the proposal’s different scales and to highlight the numerous possible uses. The time we spent on site helped us to frame these moments.
The landscape was one of the most important parameters when thinking about the perspective views. We wanted them to convey the importance of the natural elements that composed the site and the relationship between the inside and the outside. To do so, we tried to put into each perspective view, through a window for instance, a fragment of landscape.








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