Anne Lacaton Interview: Always Add, Never Withdraw

In this video from the Louisiana Museum, Anne Lacaton from the award-winning practice Lacaton & Vassal describes the importance of building upon existing conditions to create new architecture. She shares the firm’s approach to architecture, which is to “never withdraw, always add” and their focus on generosity of space, care of the users, and utilization of existing natural resources to create a more affordable architecture.

Lacaton & Vassal have gained worldwide acclaim for their transformative social housing work. They were awarded the Grand Prix national de l’architecture in 2008, the Heinrich Tessenow Medal in 2016, and the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2018, to name a few. Their projects such as the 23 Semi-collective Housing Units in Trignac, France, and Ourcq Jaures Student & Social Housing display a dedication to social responsibility in architecture. In Anne Lacaton’s interview, she describes how they mine the richness of existing architecture and the surroundings to create beautiful and affordable designs. Interpreting history as “an addition of layers,” she articulates their stance against the idea of tabula rasa and the importance of utilizing the found beauty of existing environments: “We don’t see [the existing conditions] as a constraint, we see it as a chance.”


23 Semi-collective Housing Units / Lacaton & Vassal . Image © Philippe Ruault

23 Semi-collective Housing Units / Lacaton & Vassal . Image © Philippe Ruault

23 Semi-collective Housing Units / Lacaton & Vassal . Image © Philippe Ruault

23 Semi-collective Housing Units / Lacaton & Vassal . Image © Philippe Ruault

Nantes School of Architecture / Lacaton & Vassal . Image © Philippe Ruault

Nantes School of Architecture / Lacaton & Vassal . Image © Philippe Ruault

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