Commitment to innovation

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Architecture is a complex practice that combines ideas gleaned from both the natural sciences and social sciences.

It not only involves rational thought through the application of technical knowledge, catalysing innovation, it also engages emotions, perception and behaviour.

The research work we do draws its inspiration from the natural world in order to help us design buildings with a positive environmental impact and high added value in behavioural terms.

Our research into timber construction is probably the most remarkable and emblematic expression of this inspiration.

The search for alternatives to conventional construction practices is driven by the analysis of the ecological footprint of buildings.

Prescribing timber implies capturing the carbon dioxide responsible for global warming, reducing pollution, and lowering energy consumption during the build by opting for prefabrication and dry construction processes. It also means fostering responsible ecosystem management and forestry regeneration.

The use of timber in construction also reflects another of our practice’s major fields of interest, namely the notion of wellbeing. Studies in the field of “Biophilia” establish that human wellbeing is directly related to our perception of the natural world - sunlight, materials, and plants - in any given environment. The impact of these features on our sense of self-fulfilment, creativity and productivity has been proven.

What we used to apply intuitively in our designs has now been borne out objectively by science.

The notion of perception is at the heart of the architect’s work and influences all aspects of construction, resulting in what is currently a determinedly anthropocentric approach to architectural design. By the same token our increased environmental awareness, along with the ineluctable changes in building usages, makes us less reliant on fossil fuels and leads to changes in behaviour that we must both anticipate and support.

Our scope of research provides a fertile field of investigation, from tolerance of temperature fluctuations in the workplace to the way we react to the colour of the recycled water in the washrooms.

Calling into question currents trends like shared workspaces, new means of mobility and the role of biodiversity encourages us to invent new ways of inhabiting and engaging the world, informing new spaces for retail, health and collaboration.

A current topic among our many fields of research is the bio-reactive façade, an achievement which embodies our “commitment to innovation”. Starting out as a question, soon becoming a technical challenge, the research project is now set to become a fully-fledged industrial process.

Most importantly it is the result of a craftsman-like method requiring handson experimental testing. It exemplifies the ethos of men and women who pool their own convictions, expertise and enthusiasm, seeking those same qualities among their peers in other fields. The questioning is rooted in art, in poetry, the reason rooted in science. The creative circle is thus complete.