Contextualizing Liberté D’Usage
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.
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