Anne Démians, architect elected to the Academy of Fine Arts
She is one of the great French architects of her time. At 59, Anne Démians was elected to the architecture section of the Academy of Fine Arts. This is the first time that a woman has achieved such a distinction. It will be installed on January 18, 2023 by the Franco-Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, member of the photography section of the Academy. It is during this session, under the dome of the palace of the Institut de France, that Marie-Christine Labourdette, president of the Château de Fontainebleau, will present Anne Démians with her academician’s sword.
A graduate of the National School of Architecture in Versailles, Anne Démians created her agency in 1995, which now has around thirty employees. Throughout her career, she has never stopped reinventing herself, questioning her practice and working on a wide variety of architectural projects. In Vilnius (Lithuania), she imagines panels photovoltaic vertical on the roof of the station. In Nancy, the restoration of the thermal baths is revitalizing the city. On this January day, when the light gently seeps through the bay windows to illuminate the architect’s models and books, Anne Démians welcomes us to her office in the 10th arrondissement of Paris.
Batiactu: You are the first female architect to sit in the architecture section of the Academy of Fine Arts at the Institut de France. What do you feel ?
Anne Demians: It is true that being the first woman to enter the Institute, the architecture section of the Academy of Fine Arts, remains impressive. But, I want to specify that, for me, it was never a career plan, rather taking the opportunity that was given to me to seize as a new and strengthening page of my commitment in this discipline. I hope, in any case, that this little event can detach us from the idea that differences arise between men and women when it comes to accessing titles or honorable functions. I also hope that it will be able to help women to put less brake on the various initiatives that they decide to take. My election, because it is indeed an election and not an appointment, shows that nothing now prevents an architect from claiming access to the Academy of Fine Arts, on an “immortal” seat.
What message would you like to convey to the Academy of Fine Arts?
I encourage its members to open up, without economy, to other disciplines, to go beyond the limits of their own playground and their expertise, which is often too closed in on itself. I have always been interested in disciplines other than mine and my architect work often drew on knowledge from outside. My grandfather was a historian. He taught me to look at history as a sieve through which a few moments would pass that could recur again. The Academy is modernizing and evolving in this direction. We owe it above all to its perpetual secretary, Laurent Petitgirard, who for several years has been promoting frequent exchanges between the various academies of Fine Arts and Sciences, for example. The Moral and Political Sciences are also getting involved and I am delighted because, social, economic or environmental questions, scientific, aesthetic or literary subjects, they all promote, when they look at each other, this act of transversality that I consider necessary. to the enrichment of the new thought translated by our academy.
Nothing now prevents an architect from claiming access to the Academy of Fine Arts, on an “immortal” seat.
Are there any other ideas you would like to bring to the Academy?
I recently had the opportunity to meet mathematicians and scientists on the issue of the environment, artificial intelligence and new but possible relationships between architecture, energy and territories.
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