The Double: Lacaton & Vassal Construct the New While Recognizing the Past

Architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal of Lacaton & Vassal are known for their delicate interventions, repurposing neglected structures with apparent effortlessness. As Corydon Ireland notes in the Harvard Gazette, “They practice social architecture based on economy, modesty, and the found beauty of environments.” These core concepts can be seen in Lacaton & Vassal’s treatment of an old boat warehouse called Halle AP2 in Dunkirk, France. Rather than tearing down the structure to build a new space to house the FRAC’s contemporary art collections, the architects sought to tap the potential of this “immense, bright, and impressive” volume. As a way to both recognize the old Halle and catalyze the growth of a new cultural center, Lacaton & Vassal kept the original building in its entirety, complementing it with a ghostly double that lies directly adjacent. Notably, the new structure features a light, bio-climatic envelope and a prefabricated structure to allow for free, flexible programming. For the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, the architects are working with frequent collaborator Frédéric Druot, whose practice focuses on housing, urbanism, and the transformation of preexisting structures.

Empiece por romper los espejos de su casa, deje caer los brazos, mire vagamente la pared, olvídese. Cante una sola nota, escuche por dentro. Si oye algo como un paisaje sumido en el miedo, con hogueras entre las piedras, con siluetas semidesnudas en cuclillas, creo que estará bien encaminado, y lo mismo si oye un río por donde pasan barcas pintadas de amarillo y negro, si oye un sabor de pan, un tacto de dedos, una sombra de caballo. Después compre solfeos y un frac, y por favor no cante por la nariz y deje en paz a Schumann.

Julio Córtazar

Historia de Cronopios y de Famas, Instrucciones para cantar