“I was stuck with a label” too young, too fast, too strong “”

By Vanessa Schneider

Posted today at 02:35, updated at 15:33

Dominique Perrault, 68, is one of the most renowned French architects and town planners. We owe him the François-Mitterrand library (BNF) in Paris, the velodrome and the Olympic swimming pool in Berlin or the South Korean University of Ewha in Seoul. He is currently finishing the construction of two towers in Vienna, a large underground hub in Seoul, the restructuring of the Louvre Post office in Paris, and working on the design of the Paris 2024 Olympic Village.

I wouldn’t have gotten there if …

… If I had not had the opportunity to participate in the Very Large Library (TGB) project, which has become the BNF. Jack Lang, the Minister of Culture, suggested, in a note to President Mitterrand, that a young architect should be present on the jury and mentioned my name. I was 36 years old, it was a great honor and a mark of visibility on the architectural scene, but I refused, explaining that I preferred to compete.

When the ministry called me to offer me a proposal to participate in the jury, I replied: “I have never had the opportunity to lose an international competition, let me try! You had to be young and free to dare to do that, because it was totally improbable to be selected among the best architects in the world!

Your origins did not destine you to become an architect …

I come from a family of engineers of peasant origin. My father, my uncle, my brother-in-law were engineers of Arts et Métiers. I lived in the Parisian suburbs, in Essonne, in Savigny-sur-Orge, but I spent all my holidays with my maternal family in Lozère, Auvergne and Haute-Loire, with very strong contact with nature.

My grandfather introduced me to vegetable gardens, workers, we went to look for stones in abandoned mines. I have kept a strong relationship with the earth, and my architecture, very anchored in the ground with the use of underground spaces, certainly comes from there.

When does architecture come into your life?

With May 68, I discovered culture. I start painting, a lot, which I will do for ten years. The day of my bac, a newspaper published a small article with my photo, bearded and long hair, fashionable at the time, announcing my exhibition at the local house of culture. I am an anomaly in this family where no one discussed art, music or literature. As I am good at school, my parents want me to do preparatory classes for engineering schools. I explain to them that I want to continue painting. For my mother, “Artist, it’s not a job”. We discuss, smoothly, and we agree on the architecture, a compromise in a way. I tell myself that this job will allow me to earn my living to buy myself tubes of paint.

You have 78.04% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.

source site-30