Contextualizing Liberté D’Usage


  • Alberto Geuna Politecnico di Milano
  • Claudia Mainardi Politecnico di Milano



Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have been at the forefront of European architecture for decades, as attested by numerous awards throughout their careers and culminating in the receipt of the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2021.  

Although much has been written and said about their relationship to the notion of openness in architecture, in this essay we explore the cultural context surrounding a particular aspect inherent in their way of working and conceiving the project: the desire to favour the maximum freedom of use, or liberté d’usage, particularly of – but not limited to – domestic spaces. Liberté d’usage is a declination of openness that brings forward the aspects of flexibility and adaptability suitable to contemporary architectural space, while engaging with its imaginative, atmospheric and emancipatory characteristics. This article elaborates on this view of freedom in architecture, pinning it against its cultural backdrop, and particularly the largely forgotten figure of Jacques Hondelatte, Lacaton & Vassal’s professor and mentor.

Author Biographies

Alberto Geuna, Politecnico di Milano

Alberto Geuna is a PhD student in Architectural, Urban, and Interior Design at Politecnico di Milano. He holds a master’s degree cum laude in architecture from Politecnico di Torino, and a post-master degree cum laude in architecture and urban design from the Berlage, TU Delft. He has worked in various architecture offices throughout Europe, including Sauerbruch Hutton, Lacaton & Vassal, BDR Bureau and Carlo Ratti Associati. His work with design-build collective Atelier Mobile was exhibited at the Triennale di Milano in 2018. His writings are featured in international conference proceedings and disciplinary journals like Domus and San Rocco.

Claudia Mainardi, Politecnico di Milano

Claudia Mainardi is an architect and doctoral student at the Politecnico di Milano, where she is part of the Marie- Curie EU Horizon 2020 project TACK coordinated by the ETH Zurich. Mainardi has worked for numerous offices including OMA/AMO, MVRDV, Stefano Boeri Architetti/ MultiplicityLab, and Studio Folder, winning a special mention at the fourteenth Venice Architecture Biennale (2014). In 2019, Mainardi was the head curator of the exhibition and graphic design of UABB Shenzhen Biennale, and in 2017 she was assistant curator of the 25th Biennial of Design in Ljubljana. Since 2013, Mainardi is a partner in the architectural design and research collective Fosbury Architecture.


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