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Residential Complex Urban Dock

Hamonic+Masson & Associés

Let’s take a look at French architecture. Since the beginning of the new millennium many French architecture practices have asserted themselves thanks to an intelligent system that has promoted, on the one hand, public architecture competitions whose winners actually see their projects built - to boot, fairly quickly - and on the other, groups of private investors operating in the urban regeneration sector wanting to use up-and-coming architects whose inventive flair is backed by solid technical know-how. The generation of French forty-somethings (now fifty-somethings) was probably luckier than their Italian counterparts. They had more opportunities to build and so were able to refine a language and variety of building typologies that over time has given rise to a real collective awareness of what they were doing. In Italy, but also in other countries, the opposite happened. Keen competition among professionals led to a decided radicalization of architectural languages, born of the need to stand out from the crowd. In France, on the other hand, architecture today often follows identical formulae, adopted by many architect practices that, however, manage to operate without entering into open conflict with each other. Theirs is a language that allows each individual to add, change, or interpret generally accepted principles according to their own stylistic requirements. The end result is a chorus of counterpoint and even counter melodies. In France they seem to have been able to define a common syntax that not only makes its architectural production immediately recognisable, but also guarantees quality.

Many French architects are also linked through membership of trade and professional associations. Many are part of collectives that act as think tanks, interacting, debating and sometimes arguing with local and national administrations, but always pushing back the boundaries of the debate about what sort of places should be developed in...

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