The City as Foreground

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Architect, Colour, Illustration, Photography

The City as Foreground

Antoine Alves

‘Sometimes, I find myself obsessed with a small detail like a tiny window, a chimney, or the proportions of a door that will inspire me for days.’

Architect Antoione Alves explores architectural utopic forms through an obsession with the colour blue and a passion for the photograph. The city itself is here put in the forefront as prime site for research and inspiration. From its rough surfaces to the multitude of details and complexity of its infrastructure, Antoine captures each image exploring the potential of it as a place where all stories could begin.


Who influences you graphically ?

I am influenced by numerous French talents such as Eva Le Roi and Diane Berg who explore architecture through black ink. Grems’s work is also a great source of inspiration for me as he works with the accumulation of colors, and most recently on cities, besides the fact that we have a common background : graffiti.


Eva Le Roi

When it comes to photography I am deeply influenced by Snepp Renoux, a photographer based in Paris and Berlin specialized in architecture photography. Elsa Bleda is also doing amazing work with lights and colors to reveal architecture at night. Her photos are very aesthetic.


Elsa Bleda

Eventually, I would say that my major influences are the cities themselves, all claiming their unicity; from obvious to hidden architecture details. Sometimes, I find myself obsessed with a small detail like a tiny window, a chimney, or the proportions of a door that will inspire me for days.

KooZA:rch_©Antoine Alves_33


How and to what extend is your photographic work linked to you illustrations?

I really have two different processes in illustration and photography. The first is mostly a research on utopic forms, shapes, lights and shadows. I don’t really think there is a conscious link in the process but there’s for sure a red line concerning basic shapes and forms in architecture. In both domains, I love to see how little pieces of architecture create spaces and atmospheres.

What is your take on colour?

In my illustrations, I have to admit that I’m obsessed with blue. To reveal lights and shadows, the forms, it’s an evidence for me and that creates very peaceful ambiances. I think blue represents me well. One day, I tried shades of red with watercolour on a big format, and when it was finished, I wasn’t satisfied at all, it didn’t represent me, so I decided to recover everything with shades of blue. It took me days, but for a better feeling. Recently, I have been working on the vectorisation of my original artworks, and this allows me to combine different shades and explore other atmospheres that I would never explore with water colour. Blue stays the finest nonetheless! In photography, colour means different things to me, the most important is to create atmospheres, I’ll explain my process below..

KooZA:rch_©Antoine Alves_1

What are your main objectives when capturing and image?

When capturing and image, I’m focus on revealing something, mostly atmospheres. Most of the time, it’s very linked to emotions that architecture and cities create. I’m very sensitive to rough material, rough shapes, and rough complexity of the cities. I just like when I can create cinematic scenes with photography, scenes where all stories could begin.

KooZA:rch_©Antoine Alves_27


KooZA:rch_©Antoine Alves_29

From Paris to Dubai to Vietnam and then back to France (amongst others), how and and to what extend have your travels influenced your work?

Both in my illustrations and my photography works, travels stay my major influences. You can discover new shapes, new lights, new uses and a new type of architecture. My most important travel for my illustration works was Granada in Spain. Light and shapes were absolutely unique here. The only way I found to transcribe it, was to draw it. It influenced my whole work.

KooZA:rch_©Antoine Alves_4

In photography, my most important travel was Vietnam where I strayed one year. There, i took the occasion to start photography as a souvenir, and it turned very quickly to an aesthetic research in my shots. Vietnam was a nice place to start photography!
Those experiences everywhere I go now, is a chance to reveal something, Dubai was one of the most interesting place to photography. Different codes, different scales, different uses and ways of living was totally inspiring.

What is your process in relation to the production and post production of the photographic image?

When I take a shot, the goal is to reveal a specific atmosphere i feel at the moment. The only post production process consists in redressing vertical and horizontal lines and change the colours. Then I can get a result.

KooZA:rch_©Antoine Alves_26

Noisy Le Grand

Where do you see you next step? have you ever thought of blending illustration and photography ?

I already thought about that but the process is not an evidence and I don’t feel comfortable with that for the moment. Maybe I’ll push the idea further when I’ll feel the need, thank you for the proposal KooZA/rch 😉
But except mixing photography and illustrations, the next step is certainly to travel more and discover new places. Production in illustration and photography will naturally follow.
I’m also working on developing a platform on my website to change the colours of my original illustrations (blue doesn’t fit everybody!). This platform will allow everybody to have his own print with the colours they want. I hope it will be available on November, I’ll let you know !
I am now closing two exhibitions in Bordeaux in October, I hope I could do some more for the end of the year and in 2018.


Antoine Alves (born 1990), studied architecture in Rouen (France) and spent an exchange year in Vietnam in 2012 in the architecture and landscape section. Antoine passed his diploma in 2014 with the thesis La Petite Ceinture in Paris representing his project fully on illustrator. The same year he joined Atelier Mosca with Alessandro Mosca Architect, where he started drawing and researching architectural utopic forms. Since 2016 he is working in Bordeaux (France) with Hobo Architecture office, still exploring utopic cities whilst also doing exhibitions: the first at gallery 5UN7 (Bordeaux) in 2016, a photographic exhibition at Edition from June 2017 (still running), another drawing exhibition at Art social Club in September 2017, in Bordeaux also. He was recently selected by Archdaily as part of the 80 best drawings of 2017.


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