Over a period of more than thirty years, arc en rêve in Bordeaux has organized events and lectures, inviting guest architects and theorists, specialists and non specialists to share their ideas and discuss issues relating to urban design, architecture and communal living. It has thus contributed to the emergence of specific expertise and the dissemination of contemporary architectural and urban culture, stepping well beyond local boundaries.

arc en rêve la revue is a publication and republication medium designed to provide gradual access to selected archives, most of them previously unpublished. The idea is to mine the various strata of arc en rêve’s thirty-year history, so that the data can be activated and used to address relevant topical issues.

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Projet conduit par Marie Bruneau et Bertrand Genier dans le cadre d’un partenariat avec le ppLab

Design, développement : Julien Bidoret

© arc en rêve centre d’architecture, et les auteurs / tous droits réservés


à la mairie de Bordeaux,
qui soutient arc en rêve depuis sa création

au ministère de la Culture et de la Communication / Direction générale des patrimoines / DRAC Aquitaine,
et aussi
à la communauté urbaine de Bordeaux
à la région Aquitaine

à nos partenaires privés :

Fondation d’Entreprise Bouygues Immobilier

et aussi
Château Chasse-Spleen
Tollens Materis Peintures


Lacaton et Vassal, architects, Paris

Bordeaux and Africa. Immediately after graduating from the Bordeaux School of Architecture in 1980, Jean-Philippe Vassal spent five years in Niger ; Anne Lacaton, who was involved in the educational workshop project at arc en rêve centre d’architecture at the time, visited him on a regular basis. In 1987, the set up the firm in Bordeaux that bears both their names. This long preliminary detour strongly influenced their way of seeing and their approach to architecture : since their first emblematic building, the Latapie House (Floirac, 1993), their unique work has constantly been rooted in their African experience. It is thus no coincidence that the first ever building by Lacaton and Vassal (Straw matting hut, Niamey, Niger, 1984) was constructed on African soil.

arc en rêve centre d’architecture presented their work in a monographic exhibition : Lacaton et Vassal, in 2003, then as part of the exhibition entitled 50.000 logements, with Christophe Hutin and Frédéric Druot, in 2012, and the retrospective exhibition entitled rétrospective perspectives, le grand parc, also with Christophe Hutin and Frédéric Druot, in 2012 – 2013.
In November 2013, when we were preparing this dossier on Africa, we asked Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal to look back over their African experience and its impact on their work as architects. This long interview (in both printed and audio format) was recorded in their studio on the Rue Lafayette in Paris ; it challenges a few preconceived ideas and shows what Africa can teach us about modernity…

Lacaton et Vassal official website

Lacaton et Vassal


Anne Lacaton, Jean Philippe Vassal
architects, Bordeaux/Paris
arc en rêve centre d’architecture
Exhibition, 24 October 2002 - 19 January 2003

This retrospective exhibition organized by arc en rêve centre d’architecture presents the unique approach of Anne Lacaton and Jean Philippe Vassal, two Bordeaux architects whose work is now an international reference.
Lacaton and Vassal stand apart thanks to their professional attitude, which has a genuine ethical dimension: it involves resisting the invasion of signs, and creating space that is open to appropriation and where the intervention of the architect withdraws into the background. Their approach explores restrictive parameters and transforms them into the driving force of the project. They optimize all the means at their disposal without preconceived ideas – budget, techniques, materials, the natural environment – with the primary concern of serving the wellbeing of the people who will live in their buildings.
The strength of their language lies in this stubborn quest for precise, non-definitive responses devoid of aesthetic frills. The solutions they propose are often radical, extremely simple, and imbued with enormous generosity.
The Latapie House they designed in 1993 in Floirac, Gironde, and their early work at Grenoble University, were like laboratories for their architectural convictions. The recent completion of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, a new venue devoted to contemporary art, is a major project which, like the café at the architecture centre in Vienna and the future social housing project in Mulhouse, are a natural continuation of the work they carry out with uncompromising thoroughness.
The exhibition devoted to the entire corpus of their work – both planned and completed buildings – takes the form of several different screen projections laid out in the main gallery space at arc en rêve centre d’architecture.

Lacaton et Vassal official websit