What if architecture responded to our environment?

During the “semaine de la publicité” (“the week of advertising”), I most appreciated architect François Roche who contributed to the debate on “The New Creative Classes”.  François has an iconoclastic approach to architecture—he imagines buildings that integrate themselves into their environment.  Look to “hybrid muscle”, his buffalo powered pavilion installed in northern Thailand.  Or, check out the Museum of Modern Art in Bangkok, a living witness to the city’s pollution (images above and below).  While most architects add plant life into the walls and roofs of their buildings to make them eco-friendly, François Roche and his associate Stéphanie Layaux decided for to do the opposite: construct a building whose surface attracts pollution.  Thus, the building becomes a living testimony to the city’s high pollution levels.  Here is what François Roche had to say during the project’s exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris: “In Bangkok, I am constructing a contemporary art museum for a collector who had also asked Rem Koolhass to design the building.  Bangkok has two distinctive characteristics: it is one of the most polluted cities in the world and it is a city that has not at all integrated urban planning.  The city grows rapidly, by individual fits and starts.  In constructing this building, we wanted to integrate these two phenomena.  This loss of control dictates the form of the building and the pollution and carbon residue create the “skin” of the building. Thanks to an electrostatic system that covers the exterior, the building becomes an urban filter.  The result, at once visual and tactile, is the flesh of our economy: insulated, up-tight and dusty.”  This building is beautiful in part because it reveals to us what we cannot see.

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