CANactions: Your work spans a range of different projects: from social housing and skyscrapers to public spaces and schools. Across such a broad portfolio, what connects all of them?
Jean-Christophe Masson: The connecting thread between all our projects is the practice's state of mind. It is difficult to state what our particular style is, as we have no pre-established "recipe" for our projects. Each project is different but our thought-process, method and obsessions are always visible.
I think that architecture involves exploring and embracing all spectrums while maintaining a certain image throughout.
Our creative process is not restricted by an adherence to any dogma, as we do not aim to construct the same project every time. We choose to experiment and exit the comfort zone.
If you were to describe your architecture in single words, what would they be?
Pleasure and perhaps French? France contains a varied range of people living in a large spectrum of different geographic territories (urban, rural, countryside, mountains, seaside and coastal). It is not possible to define what the French architecture is. It is so diverse according to the location of the project, as you can witness in our work. So yes, actually the office is very French!
You provided the basis of the new approach to vertical housing in the urban environment in France. You said it was a huge responsibility. What determines the responsibility of an architect for you?
For the particular project referenced in this question, the responsibility was to create a new urban form in Paris, a city traumatized by the construction of high rises in the 1960s and 70s. The second responsibility was for it to be a success…, which it is!
In the larger sense of the architect's responsibility in the field of housing, I think we have a duty to create possibilities for inhabitants. The aim is not to be enclosed or "prisoners in the architecture", but to be free and to feel at home. We must offer the parameters for life to flourish and this means creating optimum living conditions and making free appropriation possible.