We visited Clément Blanchet in his Paris studio, located in Villa Seurat, a small Parisian street flanked by modernist buildings. Inside a beautiful loft by Maillard et Ducamp, the team of Clément Blanchet Architecture was working hard on a master plan in China.
After going through diverse education programs, that included the AA in London, the Chulalongkorn Mahawitthayalai Architectural School in Bangkok, and the University of Illinois in Chicago, Clément started his career at OMA, “a long therapy [...] to discover who I was”. During his career at OMA, he became the director of OMA France, participating in projects such as the Caen Library, the Parc des Expositions in Toulouse, the Lab City CentraleSupélec, among others.
The practice is structured as a laboratory, researching, informing and generating architecture and urbanism in all its forms and sizes. From a series of carefully designed interiors for restaurants, playing with a diverse palette of materials, to large scale multifunctional buildings and master plans, adapting to the fast-changing needs of society.
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Public competitions in France have allowed CBA to take on large projects such as the Carrefour Research And Development Center in France, a new circus-like Cultural Center in Gonesse, and the innovative scheme for the new BAUER stadium in Saint Ouen. These projects embody Clément’s vision on questioning the context and the program: “Architecture has no value, except the image of it, so we have to play between image, thinking, programming, context, geography, and economy. I think architecture should not be driven by architecture, but by other phenomenons.” The office's projects abroad include a hotel complex in Tbilisi, Georgia, and a large-scale master plan in Shenzhen, China. Talking about working across different contexts, the tabula rasa and the nature, Clément admits to “feel guilty when I have to build, because it is very unsustainable”, always seeking the answer in the context, but not in a nostalgic way: "I always think that the solution is in the past, not that you have to do the same, but the source of knowledge is in the past."
Clément shares his experience developing his own studio, and the learnings from which he highlights failure: “Otherwise life is too stable, and crises provide you creativity”. Failures that have resulted in a strong body of projects, now presented on his website.
Currently Clément divides his time between the studio, his role as the chief architect for the Annecy metropolitan area, and teaching in Paris and Michigan.