We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winners of the Honorable mention of our “Paris Affordable Housing Challenge” competition - Sebastien Labbe and Nicolas Delucinge from Canada!

Nicolas Delucinge and Sébastien Labbé from Canada

Nicolas Delucinge and Sebastien Labbe from Canada

We had both lived in Canada and France before meeting two years ago at Laval University in Quebec City. Our complicity has been developed through many exchanges and the discovery of a common passion for various design issues.

It is by relying on our complementary disciplines, and our great curiosity, that we undertook this wonderful challenge of designing sustainable and affordable housing in Paris. This experience has shown us that with commitment, friendship, and a little bit of free time, we can develop ideas even though there may be more than 8,000 kilometres between us!

Nicolas Delucinge is from the Alps region of Haute-Savoie. He is an urban designer and landscape architect. He studied landscape architecture at the Hepia engineering school in Geneva, Switzerland. He went to Quebec City to pursue his studies at Laval University for a double Master's degree in land-use planning and urban design. The rigour and particular focus he gives to research in his projects comes from his experience with the interdisciplinary research group REPSAQ, where he was able to study the issue of sustainable food systems for 2 years. His interest in architecture really developed thereafter, with Anne Carrier Architecture, alongside a committed and well-known office. He now lives in Paris and works with Mutabilis, an agency specialized in landscape and urban planning. Nicolas had the opportunity to work at different scales; from ephemeral scenography projects to territorial scales for longer-term planning.

Sébastien's love for detail-oriented constructions comes first from his Architectural Technologist background. Native from Quebec in Canada, he completed his Bachelor’s degree at the École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Nantes in France and his Master's degree at Laval University. Throughout the stories of his projects, he makes fiction and imaginary surprise us while keeping in mind the importance of science and technical details. This correlation between ideas and achievements fascinates him. His desire to discover his native country led him to travel across Canada and settle in Vancouver, where he now works for Michael Green Architecture, a firm internationally known for its sustainable and innovative mass-timber buildings.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where company/individuals have been involved?

Full steam ahead is the first project we designed together. As a new team, we want to continue to explore and develop the strengths of our different skills and experiences in future competitions. We are thinking, for example, of large-scale landscape and architectural competitions, where a deep understanding of the natural structures, such as topography, will be essential. We're both interested in contextualism and how we are currently interacting with the natural world. We also wish to participate in more technical competitions, such as engineering works and structures. We haven't found a limit to our curiosity yet.

Whatever the scale of the intervention, we consider it a real benefit to be able to explore different approaches and contexts through our academic and professional experiences. We share this desire to imagine and create a better world that includes urbanity, sustainability and community in the design process.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

As designers, we are called upon to think about pragmatic solutions and develop new ideas in order to respond to current social, urban and environmental issues. It is even more interesting to develop them by promoting the creation of atmospheres and sensitive experiences on a human scale. If, for example, we take the current challenge of adapting our societies to climate change, a colossal amount of work awaits architects, landscape architects and urban planners of our generation and those that follow. The creativity, rigour and energy that will have to be devoted to it are all of equally great importance. These are very exciting challenges, in which we, like other actors in society, must take part.

For us, architecture - and design related to living spaces and territories more broadly - involves understanding and transcription of cultural values in a physical form, whether it is the primary need of the order, the more intangible cultural and societal values. This requires a lot of time, attentiveness, dialogue and commitment to understand these elements. Although sometimes we have no control over societal processes, because they involve many actors, we must understand them to create a story that is connected to these forces.

Thus, the understanding of the different scales of intervention and the multidisciplinary teams are important. We know that the greatest achievements come from collective work that goes through good relationships and knowledge sharing.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Competitions and calls for ideas are opportunities to address new topics that we have not had the opportunity to discover earlier in school or professional life. This is a great opportunity to explore ideas in depth. This allows us to enrich our knowledge on a subject through research that is conducted throughout the design process. During our careers, we intend to develop this innovation-related approach by taking part in local and international competitions, among others. We must be sensitive to the architectural quality of our cities and carrying out projects for they allow to continually think of new ideas or adapt existing ones to contexts. We have this very broad vision of the practice, particularly because the profession requires us to research, discover and learn about several areas of expertise. And if competitions also allow us to share our ideas more widely with the public, this is an advantage to consider.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

Competitions require curiosity and discipline, and the feeling of accomplishment is worth the effort. It is a good way to discover and develop architectural concepts, and beyond that, to discover yourself as a designer. We can develop ideas and visions, which then consolidates our beliefs in everyday practice. Teamwork is also very stimulating; it is pleasant to feel that we are progressing together and that we can formalize our ideas step by step by exchanging opinions. It's an exciting experience that you, your friends and colleagues will remember for a long time!

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