La leçon du Sud
Distingué par le Prix spécial du jury du concours ArchiCOTE, ce collectif d’architectes, formé à Nice en 2002 et installé désormais à Paris, signe des projets engagés et porteurs de visions d’avenir.
© Serge Demailly Bita Azimi, Jean-Patrice Calori, Marc Botineau.
It’s about friendly exchange, a trio that’s pretty hybrid in terms of culture and generation. “Jean-Patrice Calori had started up his business before us. We then joined him with Marc Botineau. We launched this agency in quite a tribal state of mind, a family and friendly atmosphere,” enthuses architect Bita Azimi, who hails from Tehran. CABs acknowledge filiation with architects who have gone before them, including Pierre Fauroux, Pierre-Louis Faloci, and Marc Barani. Their approach, the wild dream that it is possible to create a building in dialogue with its environment, goes against the grain of star architects’signature buildings – a prescient ideal and increasingly appealing to the younger generation. In any case, a promising approach for the agency, which won the Prix de l’Équerre d’Argent for its Pôle Petite Enfance in La Trinité in 2012, and whose Ariane sports complex in Nice, ENSAE university complex in Saclay, and Institut de la Mer in Villefranche-sur-Mer were each shortlisted for the Mies van der Rohe European Architecture Award.
From the East to our Mediterranean heritage
“The poetry of the Côte d’Azur is part of our references: the civil engineering structures, viaducts and retaining walls contribute to this singularity. These elements refer to gradient, one of the region’s three key features, along with the relationship with sky and light, which all contribute to the dramaturgy of the South,” continues Jean-Patrice Calori. CAB Architectes’first projects included “La Coualla” in Eze, on a steeply sloping site with a breathtaking view. Instead of building a single house, we thought more about densities, creating eight apartments, including three duplex villas. Shifting soil and building on it is no trivial matter. We want to offer people semi-collective housing of sufficient quality to lure them away from detached villas,” adds Bita Azimi brightly.
Pathways and thresholds in the landscape
Facilities-wise, the trio’s design for the Pôle Petite Enfance de la Trinité is rooted in the same contextual ecology. It’s a project where the infrastructure fundamentally determines the structure. “For us, using concrete was a matter of common sense since there are quarries and cement works nearby. For the Villefranche-sur-Mer nursery school, thanks to the Swiss Cobiax system, an alveolar floor was cast on-site, freeing up large rooms with few constraints. With their indeterminate spaces, these two buildings can potentially change use if the need evolves,” explains Jean-Patrice Calori. “I’ve always been worried about the façade crisis,” says Bita Azimi wryly. «By contrast, in our approach, the structure defines the project and all openings derive from this system.” Jean-Patrice Calori concludes: “The South of France has been a real lesson for us, and it’s on this basis that we’re now developing projects in other territories as well.”