Lacaton & Vassal Biography & Bibliography

Lacaton & Vassal Biography

Anne Lacaton & Jean-Philippe Vassal Biography

Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal / France  / Works of LACATON & VASSAL

Anne Lacaton (1955, Saint-Pardoux, France) and Jean-Philippe Vassal (1954, Casablanca, Morocco) met in the late 1970s during their formal architecture training at École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture et de Paysage de Bordeaux. Lacaton pursued a Master in Urban Planning from Bordeaux Montaigne University (1984), while Vassal relocated to Niger, West Africa, to practice urban planning. Lacaton often visited Vassal, and it was there that the genesis of their architectural doctrine began, as they were profoundly influenced by the beauty and humility of sparing resources within the country’s desert landscapes.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the people are so incredible, so generous, doing nearly everything with nothing, finding resources all the time, but with optimism, full of poetry and inventiveness. It was really a second school of architecture.

– Jean-Philippe Vassal

In Niamey, Niger, Lacaton, and Vassal built their first joint project, a straw hut, constructed with locally sourced bush branches, which yielded surprising impermanence, relenting to the wind within two years of completion. They vowed never to demolish what could be redeemed and instead make sustainable what already exists, thereby extending through addition, respecting the luxury of simplicity, and proposing new possibilities.

They established Lacaton & Vassal in Paris (1987) and have since demonstrated boldness by designing new buildings and transformative projects. For over three decades, they have designed private and social housing, cultural and academic institutions, public space, and urban strategies. The duo’s architecture reflects their advocacy of social justice and sustainability by prioritizing a generosity of space and freedom of use through economic and ecological materials.

Providing physical and emotional wellbeing has also been intentional in their work. Their application of greenhouse technologies to create bioclimatic conditions began with Latapie House in Floirac, France (1993). Using the sun in harmony with natural ventilation, solar shading, and insulation, they created adjustable and desirable microclimates. “From very early on, we studied the greenhouses of botanic gardens with their impressive fragile plants, the beautiful light and transparency, and ability to transform the outdoor climate. It’s an atmosphere and a feeling, and we were interested in bringing that delicacy to architecture,” shares Lacaton.

Their skillful selection of modest materials enables the architects to build larger living spaces affordably, as demonstrated by the construction of 14 single-family residences for a social housing development (2005) and 59 units within low-rise apartment buildings at Neppert Gardens (2015), both in Mulhouse, France; and in adjoining mid-rise buildings consisting of 96 units in Chalon-sur-Saône, France (2016); among others.

Throughout their careers, the architects have rejected city plans calling for the demolition of social housing, focusing instead on designing from the inside out to prioritize the welfare of a building’s inhabitants and their unanimous desires for larger spaces. Alongside Frédéric Druot and Christophe Hutin, they transformed 530 units within three buildings at Grand Parc in Bordeaux, France (2017) to upgrade technical functions but more notably, to add generous, flexible spaces to each unit without displacing its residents during construction, and while maintaining rent stability for the occupants.

Good architecture is a space where something special happens, where you want to smile, just because you are there. It is also a relationship with the city, a relationship with what you see, and a place where you are happy, where people feel well and comfortable—a space that gives emotions and pleasures.

– Jean-Philippe Vassal

Their practice, Lacaton & Vassal, has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trienal de Lisboa (2016); and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture (2019) along with Frédéric Druot Architecture and Christophe Hutin Architecture for the transformation of 530 Dwellings at Grand Parc, Bordeaux. More recently, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have been selected as the 2021 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureates.

LACATON & VASSAL Bibliography – Recommended Books

This bibliography consists of a selective list of books relating to LACATON & VASSAL Architecture.

lacaton vassal book

LACATON & VASSAL 1993 / 2017

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: El Croquis; 1st edition (November 10, 2017)
  • Language: English, Spanish
Description by publisher: Covering more than two decades of work, it gives special consideration not only to their methodology and ideals as these have matured through the years, through critical analysis by Arnoldo Rivkin and Juan Hereros and an interview with the architects, but also to an extensive selection of exemplary projects. Among the 26 featured works are the Nantes School of Architecture, FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, Guangzhou Museum, Le Grand Sud Polyvalent Theater in Lille, housing projects in Paris, Saint Nazaire, Mulhouse, and Bordeaux, plus several private residences.SHOP NOW
lacaton vassal book

Av 170: Lacaton & Vassal – Strategies Of The Essential

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Avisa (November 26, 2014)
  • Language: English
lacaton vassal book

Lacaton & Vassal 

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hyx (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English, French
Description by publisher: Designed by the architects themselves, this monograph is published in conjunction with an exhibition of their work at the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris. The illustrated monograph gathers all the projects that have been designed by the office and presents them in thematic groups, such as beginnings, landscape, dreams, freedom, transformation, and the city together. These themes are woven into a story that challenges the architect’s proposals. In denying the obvious, the architects seek to emphasize what is essential and specific to each situation and context while proposing an architecture that celebrates freedom.SHOP NOW
Druot, Lacaton & Vassal - Tour Bois Le Pretre

Druot, Lacaton & Vassal – Tour Bois Le Pretre

  • Paperback: 78 pages
  • Publisher: Ruby Press (March 6, 2013)
  • Language: English, German
Description by publisher: This large-format monograph gives an in-depth account of the history, transformation, and revitalization of a 1960s-era residential tower in northern Paris, as seen through the eyes of the French office of Druot, Lacaton & Vassal. It details the architect’s rationales and perspectives regarding recycling architecture in an economical and cost-effective manner, which is ultimately more rewarding than demolishing and rebuilding. With numerous full-color photographs of both interiors and exteriors, drawings, plans, and comparisons of the old and new towers, the book serves as a manifesto to the ideals of reuse and its benefits for architecture urbanism today.SHOP NOW
lacaton vassal book

Freedom of Use (Sternberg Press / The Incidents)

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Sternberg Press (August 10, 2015)
  • Language: English
Description by publisher: Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal are known for architecture that privileges inhabitants’ freedom and pleasure through generous, open designs. The Paris-based architects opened their 2015 lecture at Harvard University with a manifesto: study and create an inventory of the existing situation; densify without compressing individual space; promote user mobility, access, choice; and most importantly, never demolish. Freedom of Use reflects on these core values to present Lacaton and Vassal’s oeuvre’s fluid narrative, articulated through processes of accumulation, addition, and extension. The architects describe built and unbuilt work, from a house in Niger, made of little more than branches; to the expansive Nantes School of Architecture; to a public square in Bordeaux where, after months of study, their design solution was: do nothing.The Incidents is a series of publications based on events at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design between 1936 and tomorrow.


Other Recommended Books:


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