Nature is most often seen as the container for architecture, where structures are built over time. Hubert Pelletier and Yves de Fontenay are interested in the fascinating conceptual inversion, where nature becomes contained in and captive to architecture: nature that is held and shaped by the limits of architecture.
This topsy-turvy idea is already entrenched in institutions devoted to showcasing nature, such as botanical gardens, zoos, aquariums and museums of natural history. These “architectures of captive nature” will be central to the winners’ study project.
The study will be carried out in four cities in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, i.e. Berlin, Hanover, Mannheim and Heidelberg. These urban centres will offer the laureates a unique historical perspective, since they are home to a number of nature museums with a history dating back several centuries. The two architects will visit a dozen institutions there and conduct a series of interviews with German professionals.
The study trip, directly linked with their recent work, will fuel the two architects’ imaginations, while giving them a better understanding of the close connections between architecture and the living world. Their research will help them design the Insectarium Metamorphosis and is sure to inspire some new and innovative applications.
“Our Architectures de la nature captive project has been radically transformed as our way of thinking about the relationship between humans and nature has evolved,” say Pelletier and de Fontenay. “The Phyllis Lambert Grant gives us a fabulous opportunity to gain a better understanding of these institutions, the history of the ideas that inform them, and the architecture that embodies them.”
Once back home, they will share their findings and observations in the form of a digital publication, a sort of collection of virtual objects, containing selected images, with commentary, and the video interviews conducted during their trip.