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Architecture-Studio, an opening on Africa

 Founded in 1973, Architecture-Studio is a Parisian architectural agency.

It has contributed to many books in France but also Abroad. Africa, Middle East, Asia, it has implemented many projects. Moreover, in Africa, the agency has been enabling light on young talents in the field architecture, by organizing contests and exhibitions.



Architecture-Studio is composed of one hundred and fifty architects, planners and designers of twenty-five different nationalities gathered around twelve associated architects: Martin Robain, Rodo Tisnado, Jean-Francois Good, Alain Bretagnolle René-Henri Arnaud, Laurent -Marc Fischer, Marc Lehmann, Roueida Ayache, Gaspard Joly, Marie-Caroline Piot, Mariano Efron, Amar el Leil Sabaa.

For the 15th International Architecture biennial, « Reporting from the Front, » the agency is organising an art exhibition « Mission Trans-mission » at CA’ASI in Venice. This is a place established in order to promote dialogue around art and contemporary architecture. This will be held until November 27, 2016 and will bring together architects from Arab countries, China and African countries. This exhibition will present the accomplished works of these award-winning architects in previous contests. Thus, they can demonstrate the usefulness of their work which has a view to improving the living conditions in a context where the issue of sustainable development is undeniable. »The idea was to expose young African architects that were selected in 2014. In 2012, it was to choose among the young Arab architecture. On the first edition, six years ago it was the young Chinese Architecture. Indeed, we have been organising these contests for young international architects for six years. The principle of the contest is to give the opportunity the applicants to present a project. Each year, dozens of architects from various countries are selected and their projects are exposed » explained Amar Sabeh El Leil, associate architect at Architecture-Studio. A way for the agency to circulate this architecture but also to go find professionals on their own rather than rely on magazines for example. »We made a catalogue containing all the architects and even those who were not nominated. It helps to have a panorama of architecture in various places of the world. The Venice Architecture biennial represent a key momentum for the entire profession. The architects are immediately under the spot and this on a long term, they are followed » says Amar Sabeh El Leil.


Successful projects of young architects


The 15th International Architecture biennial, « Reporting from the Front » is a retrospective on the projects proposed at previous editions by architects of various represented regions such as Africa, the Middle East and China. It enables a real exchange on the projects from the various architects who are present. The biennial events help support this architecture, to get the order, the first is always difficult to obtain. Being exhibited at the biennial is an important coverage that reassures the purchasers and the customers. In 2014, Africans outside Arab League were able to exhibit exemplary projects. In 2014, Africans outside Arab League were able to exhibit exemplary projects.

Among them, an African architect who proposed a work of village boundaries. Just with palisades and very simple means, he managed to create public spaces. He was among the winners. « It is true that in Africa, people have very few resources and they manage to make a maximum of elements. For us, it was a significant moment to meet with architects who developed extraordinary projects and we could even have selected few more projects if we were not limited« , says Alain Bretagnolle, one of the associate architects.

In 2014, the theme of the biennial “Young Architects in Africa » aimed to reveal the talent of young African architects. « It was a time when we discovered projects that gave us the feeling of being back to the roots, very rich in emotions. This exhibition was very beneficial to people who usually work in very isolated environment. These architects were able to build relationships« , says Alain Bretagnolle. « These experiences enabled us to understand where the fundamentals of each country are. We consider the socio-cultural context inherent to each. In 2015, another exhibition at the CA’ASI was dedicated to « African cities in motion, » added Monteiro Widson, urban architect.


Rich activities in Africa


Architecture-Studio is working on many projects in Africa, in Togo for instance, where the agency plans to implement the new pavilion of the airport, build a hotel, as well some major property and urban development in Lome, the capital of the country.

In Senegal, the architects proposed a tourism development near Dakar. In Algeria, a theater in Ouled Fayet (Algiers) is also under implementation. A village of pilgrims in N’Djamena, Chad is under development, without forgetting the new University Hospital of Tangier, Morocco. Moreover, Ivory Coast is the African country where Architecture Studio is considering to open a local branch office to sustain African projects. In Marcory, a city of Abidjan (Ivory Coast) a development of two green neighborhoods (Anoumabo and Sicogi) is being considered. »We studied these poor neighborhoods of an area of 150 hectares to transform them into two green neighborhoods. The aim is to give the impetus to Abidjan to become a green city. This project will be a sort of example to give, an economic model for West Africa » commented Monteiro Widson.

Furthermore, the agency presented a Pyramid rehabilitation project, an emblematic building of the Plateau to the Ministry of Culture and the District of Abidjan. An ecofriendly hotel project should also be born in Bouake. « Through our projects, we want to develop concepts of autonomy in terms of energy, sanitation, with an ecological impact in Africa. Gradually, the concept of smart city, connected city will also concern the African continent » concludes Monteiro Widson.


Africa is a virgin territory in which reuses of materials is very common practice, natural and even necessary. Knowing that all these activities and these ambitions may lead to the development of Africa, Architecture-Studio aims to be an architectural firm committed and open to the world.


By Darine Habchi

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