“We must transform the city into a useful and sustainable territory”, (R Architecture)

They have a sensitive approach to architecture. Guillaume Relier and Alice Wijnen, co-founders of the R Architecture agency, have been working for more than ten years to design projects that are rooted in their territories. From Paris to Normandypassing through Haute-Savoie, the two architects respond to commands from public markets while promoting the use of biosourced and reused materials. Today, their firm has a dozen employees and practices architecture as “a natural science, a discipline squared, precise and to the millimeter“.

Their work was rewarded in 2014, when the two professionals won the Young Architects and Landscapers Albums (Ajap). The same year, they were nominated for the prize for the First Work for a reception pavilion in Flaine. They provide, in 2016, curating and scenography of the French Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. These experiences are told to us by Guillaume Relier, who agreed to answer our questions.

Batiactu: How is your agency doing?

William Connect: The pandemic of Covid-19 stopped us. We had a fall in staff within our agency but we have been able to hire again since. There are now ten of us in our office. It is a size that suits us. In terms of projects, we are working on two major programmes, worth more than 20 million euros, that of the restructuring of the Jean Moulin high school in Torcy (Seine-et-Marne) and that of the rehabilitation of a crèche in the 12th district of Paris. These projects should last a few years.

My partner Alice Wijnen and I like to design restructuring projects on occupied sites, such as the renovation of four radio creation studios at the Maison de la Radio in Paris. The construction is in progress. More than half of our projects are in the existing one. We are also working on two consultations, for the University of Jussieu (Paris) and for the Banque de France.

R Architecture radio creation studio Maison de la Radio
The renovation of the radio creation studios of the Maison de la Radio, in Paris. © R Architecture

In 2014, your agency won the Young Architects and Landscapers Albums (Ajap). Looking back, what did this award bring you?

Visibility. It aroused the interest of public contracting authorities and we were selected for many competitions over the following two years. Even today, the price remains distinguished.

“I observe a transformation, a questioning of architects on the subject of climate change.”

What is your vision of architecture today?

The sector is in the process of taking on subjects that it is imperative to deal with, such as adaptation to global warming. I observe a transformation, a questioning of architects who are more willing to commit than certain players in the building sector. Changing regulations, societal expectations, tools such as the bim and artificial intelligence are pushing the sector to transform.

“The mountains of Haute-Savoie and the architecture of Marcel Breuer are impressive, disconcerting, fascinating.”

In a few words, tell us about your personal journey…

I graduated from the National School of Architecture in Versailles in 2005. At that time, I was conducting research on the ski resort of Flaine (Haute-Savoie), built in the 1960s in precast concrete. The site is characteristic of the architecture of Marcel Breuer and his time. It’s a piece of urbanity

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