Foundation 23 - Re-materializing Construction

15 Anne Lacaton a vacation home built on a sand dune overgrown with pine trees. They decided to neither change the dune nor cut down the trees. Instead, the house was elevated on a simple steel structure which was easily anchored. Lacaton explained that the concept of make do works not only for individual buildings but also on a larger scale. It can give architects a practical approach for sustainable regional and urban planning. She cited the example of a small town in western France where a forest was threatened by an urban development project. 300 apartments were to be built on a certain plot. After inspecting the site, the architects proposed building only 200 apartments – el- evated in the treetops so the forest could recover around them. Unfortunately, this proposal was turned down by the clients. The concept of make do can also be applied to factors beyond one’s influence, such as climate. Especially architects who focus on sus- tainability can employ the concept to increase people’s comfort. “Every technical decision we make should also be a benefit for the user and for the quality of life and even for the pleasure of people,” said the architect. She presented a project executed in Floriac, France in 1993. The low-cost, easy-to-implement concept transformed the outdoor space into a sort of giant greenhouse. Shading and natural ventilation made for an ideal indoor climate. But what about the millions of buildings around the world that are abandoned and unused or simply no longer meet modern stan- dards? “ Make do with them to reuse them, to give them life again and to invent new uses,” demanded Lacaton. She showed how this can be done with an example from the French seaport of Dunkirk. A contemporary art center was to be built in a former industrial building. However, this would have destroyed the character of the huge hall, which is why the architects proposed the construction of a twin building. This was to look like the existing factory build- New add-on sunrooms were a cost-effective, user- and environmen- tally-friendly solution for upgrading the buildings. Additional residential units were placed on the flat roofs. “For us, the existing is the building material of today.”

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