Every June since 2006, the city of Montpellier in Southern France transforms into a living architecture space. During a long weekend, young and emerging architects from France and other countries gather to display installations in the historic center of the town.
For this occasion, historic townhouses and private palaces open their doors to receive visitors to present their inner courtyards and the temporary contemporary architectural installations. The Live Architecture Festival offers an opportunity to learn more about the city’s history and connect with architecture and construction professionals in a lively context.
The event is free to attend as it aims to bring architecture closer to the general public. The 14th edition in 2019 received more than 19,000 visitors who admired the 16 installations that were designed by French and international designers and architects.
Under the theme Beauty, the festival organizers Elodie Nourrigat and Jacques Brions, both architects in Montpellier, brought together groups of people who contemplated the subject matter and created ephemeral works that could be quickly installed within the courtyard walls.
Philosophy, aesthetics, history, psychology and art converge and beauty emerges. In architecture this means the perfect balance of forms, elegance and proportions that bring out purity of lines, transcending to the inexplicable and creating a sense of pleasure for the beholder. While beauty is an individual or collective experience, it is also a way to connect with others on an intellectual level to share mutual feelings.
The designers of the 16 installations including the Pavilion Waste Is More approached the question of spatial experiences in a way to encourage discussions and exchanges among visitors. The simple yet innovative and dynamic installations invited visitors to contemplate the beauty of space, light, color and form in context of old buildings mixed with contemporary materials and techniques.
Students from the School of Architecture of Montpellier were present during the festival to mediate and facilitate the interactions with the installations and to answer questions about the works, the creators and their backgrounds.
Among these architects were a group of university students from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art from New York. The students of this reputed school in the United States produced an installation that combined architecture, art and engineering beautifully.
The wide range of architecture highlights left visitors with lasting impressions. Some of the installations stood out based on the public’s and the jury’s judgments. They received well-deserved prizes and awards.
The public chose Golden Butterfly (Papillon d’Or), by Cristina Nan, Dirce Medina Patatuchi and Carlos Bausa Martinez who came over from Scotland and England for the festival. Their multicultural backgrounds and the convergence of various creative disciplines led to the whimsical, hauntingly beautiful installation that moved so many visitors. The installation is based on the team’s conceptual approach that is grounded in the digital era.
It was inspired by the flight of the butterfly that is almost magically suspended in the air. The insect that symbolizes freedom, beauty and lightness moved the public’s perception. Golden Butterfly was manufactured with PET and golden vinyl that beautifully reflected the lights and the shadows within the ancient walls of the private palace.
The jury prize went to Transformé by Coralie Casanova and Thibaud Bronchart from Paris, France. The installation consisted of a giant pearl suspended above some carefully placed sand in the middle of a historic courtyard. The object represented the different stages of transformation that entered a dialogue provoked by the proportions and the placement. The art piece invited visitors to contemplate beauty in its multiple aspects.
A special prize was awarded to Notre Nid by French architect Maxence Grangeot and a special mention was given to Lopez Rodriguez Enrique and Berriozabal Armesto Inigo from Spain and the Netherlands for their installation Showcase.
Montpellier as a contemporary city served as a real-life laboratory for the experience of architecture and contemporary art where visitors had a chance to immerse themselves in the subject matter or approach the disciplines in a relaxed and contemplative way. The designers of the installations invited visitors to interact with the objects while in town and contemplate them long after they are gone.
Read more about French interior designs: Sanijura at Maison & Objet 2019.
Source: photos are courtesy of v2com.