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by Pooja Suresh HollannavarPublished on : Mar 01, 2023
While living sculptures have been around for a while, liveable sculptures are a fairly new concept. However, Geneva and Lisbon-based BUREAU—the project of Daniel Zamarbide, Carine Pimenta, Galliane Zamarbide—is no stranger to this concept. Back in 2014, the architectural studio spearheaded by Daniel and Leopold Banchini, created Antoine in Bagnes in Switzerland. Eight years later, their journey of liveable sculptures continues, extending with Thérèse in Sergy, France.
A small wooden cabin concealed with rough concrete to look like a boulder, Thérèse hides in the dense woodlands outside Sergy, where the artistic community of Bermuda dwells and develops its artistic and environmental activities.
Built along the lines of its predecessor, Thérèse, with its rough exterior, conceals a light timber structure, just large enough for a single person to live comfortably—featuring strategically designed niches for storage, table with benches for seating, and a portable wood burning stove to provide warmth. A bench under the circular window provides additional seating and a ladder leads up to the mezzanine, with a compact sleeping area. All the furniture is crafted out of the same timber that lines the interiors of the cabin, creating a cohesive sense of warmth in an otherwise barebones space.
There is an unmissable, almost storybook like quality to the projects of BUREAU, perhaps owing to the direct inspirations drawn from the writings of Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz, a Swiss novelist, for Thérèse and Antoine. This is rather unsurprising, as the practice anoints itself as a furniture series, an editorial project, a design team.
STIR speaks with Daniel Zamarbide from BUREAU, to know more about the practice, their love for liveable sculptures, and the design and construction of project Thérèse.
Pooja Suresh Hollannavar: What was the genesis of BUREAU?
Daniel Zamarbide: The BUREAU was born in its first version in 2012 as a new structure wanting to expand and explore non-conventional ways of practicing architecture—apart from building construction. We are a research base studio. We wanted from the very beginning to hide behind the very generic name of BUREAU, a way to free ourselves from any programmatic endeavour—an architecture of purpose and investigation rather than one based on problem-solving approach. The name was also born with the move to Lisbon, a city that has very much marked, influenced our work.
Pooja: How do you maintain your creative vision year after year?
Daniel: We are constantly questioning the direction of our creative practice. Where to intervene as architects, for who, with who, and in which contexts. These are very crucial decisions as they orient our practice and also the level of risk that we allow ourselves to take. The way to maintain the vision is actually quite simple. Our work is very much in conversion, between us, the three partners, but also very much with the people we work with, internally and externally. One aspect that is important is a sort of continuous critical view of architecture in general, not in the sense of criticising but of maintaining a distant view of how architecture operates in general. These discussions are very present in the office, within ourselves, and with our team.
Pooja: Shapes tend to play a very important role in all your designs. The same seems to be true for Thérèse. Is that a conscious decision every time or is it an outcome of your design process?
Daniel: We learn a lot from art and art forms. In this sense, aesthetics is also part of the discussion and we do try to reflect on how our projects take shape. But there is never a preconceived idea of what form or aesthetic language the project should adopt. It seems to emerge completely naturally, through drawing and experience.
Pooja: What was the genesis of Thérèse? How does it relate to Antoine, your earlier project?
Daniel: Thérèse is part of a narrative story. The starting point is a novel by a Swiss author who is developing a beautiful work about life in mountain contexts. It has been thus transposed to our own BUREAU narratives or architectural stories to become a built personage. Both are closely related as they evolve from the same literary piece. In the novel, they are personages of the same story and event, a major rock fall that occurred in a specific part of the Swiss mountains. Both Antoine and Thérèse have been developed in an artistic context, as part of public art programs. They are thus artefacts placed between art and architecture.
Pooja: Were there any peculiar challenges faced during the design and construction of Thérèse?
Daniel: The construction was done by the members of BERMUDA, the artistic community/collective that lives there. They have developed a strong know-how and construction skills. There were thus a lot of construction challenges that we had to face with them. You could say that in both cases—Antoine and Thérèse—they are part of an auto-construction approach without going through the channels of the usual construction companies and markets. Something we are very proud of.
Location: Sergy, France
Year of completion: 2022
Built Up Area: 8.8 sqm
Architect: BUREAU (Daniel Zamarbide, Carine Pimenta, Galliane Zamarbide)
Concept design: Daniel Zamarbide, Carine Pimenta
Project execution: Daniel Zamarbide (project manager), Pierre Musy, Chiara Pezzetta, Flavio Gorgone, Matilde Mozzi
Construction supervision: Daniel Zamarbide, Galliane Zamarbide
Technical realisation and coordination: Max Bondu (project manager), Léo Schweiger, Simon Rousset, Emile Dumas, Julien Griffit, Bénédicte le Pimpec et Anabelle Voisin
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