“C42” Citroen Showroom

Architype Dialogue presents

Manuelle Gautrand

What was the most difficult issue about working within this building type or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought in your project?

The most difficult issue was to go beyond the constraints and the complexity of the site. In spite of the site and its narrowness, the project had to express deeply the spirit of this brand Citroën. The volumetry had to envelop visitors in a smooth way, giving him a impress of fluidity and breathing space.

Even if the site was very small (the footprint is only 350 m2), the project had to get a powerful impact on the visitor, to give to him a resume of Citroën’s spirit. We had to express the main character, the roots of the brand, in a few number of sqm….

Did this project expand or evolve your role as an architect in any way? In general, do you feel that the role of the architect is changing on current projects?

In this project architecture had to express a brand, an automobile spirit which is totally unique in Citroën. “How architecture can express Citroën?”: That was the question, and I think that expressing a brand becomes a current question for an architect. And I think that architecture can help deeply to express, to explain, to emphasize a brand. It was a thrilling question because it was necessary to study the history of the brand and its unique character.

How is your building possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in technology and society inspired new thought and solutions?

Compare to other fields, architecture seems to be sometimes late: For example, in some fields of industries, innovation is really a common component. Architecture must integrate the concept of permanence and durability, and is sometimes a little bit too much prudent…

For this building I was inspired by the very innovative fields of automobile industry, and I tried to introduce this innovative way of thinking inside the building, with mobility, shapes, flexibility of spaces, and with the technology of some materials which are used.

In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and incoming young architects? In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?

For this project, my inspiration sources where totally dedicated to the universe of Citroën, and its 100 years of history. And for each project, I’m eager to discover and analyze a new universe: it can be a cultural universe (like for the brand Citroën), it can be also a geographic one, a country, a special site…each context and program help me to reformulate a new strategy, deeply adapted and developed to a specific project.

Architype Review thanks Manuelle Gautrand for her interview and for contributing to this collection of Architype Dialogue.

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