Near and dear to Paris

Les Grandes Tables de L’ile  — a new restaurant/bar/open-air café by French architects 1024 –– is positioned on Île Seguin (an island on the Seine river between Boulogne-Billancourt and Sèvres, in the west suburbs of Paris). It sits in the middle of a temporary garden whilst waiting for the architect Jean Nouvel’s macro project to be implemented. It is a place to meet, for haute cuisine and even parties to accompany the reconstruction of this island steeped in history. The project is an architectural hybridization between an agricultural greenhouse, a barge and a timber-frame house. Modelled after a large wood fibre box suspended in a scaffold structure from which freight containers are hanging, all encompassed beneath a transparent umbrella… An eye-catching iconoclastic assemblage with an area of 300m2 to accommodate120 covers and the cuisine of Arnaud Daguin, a chef with stars to his name.

Constructed from scaffolding, wood fibre panels and containers, according to the principle dear to the 1024 duo, the restaurant can be promptly extended by video and lighting effects by changing with the assistance of mapping for the duration of a party or a particular event. ‘A meeting place aimed at initiating the reoccupation of the venue. An architecture which must be able to disappear without leaving any traces…

Founded in 2008 by Pierre Schneider (born in 1977) and François Wunshel (born in 1978), both educated at the Strasbourg School of Architecture, 1024 is the fruit of the desire to make the constructed world and the virtual world communicate to offer an enhanced vision of architecture. As soon as their studies ended they formed the EXYZT collective with 3 other architects ‘with whom we have developed a series of temporary architectural installations that we have designed, built and inhabited.‘ A joint venture which took a personal twist for its two founders in 2007 thanks to the SQUARE Cube device produced for the musician Etienne de Crecy. They founded 1024, like 512 by 512 pixels: the resolution of the video files projected on the French musician’s cube. A new architectural adventure had begun, emblematic of an era in full digital revolution which united these two à priori identical profiles to create a completely new entity. Architects producing video performances or designers building temporary buildings, the duo runs counter to the rules of a profession being perpetually redefined, going as far as producing and marketing their own software, MadMapper. They pass indifferently from scenographic video systems for DJs like BOOM-Box, on tour since 2009, to the lighting up of the Bercy Open tennis court (2008) or of the Théâtre des Célestins in Lyon.

Perennial buildings into which they breathe temporary light up by bombarding them with pixels which respond to their constructed architecture/ installation but which are equally radically fleeting and direct. A creative range which mixes low and high-tech in the same falsely anachronistic movement found in the range of tools used by these neo architect performers: ‘We use many simple, raw and standardised materials, most often from the world of construction or linked to industrialisation, transport, or packing processes. Scaffolding, containers, timber framework, pallets, nets from sites and thermo retractable plastic (used for mass packaging or in asbestos removal projects)… are found in our “catalogue” of favoured materials. As for our favoured technology, obviously video projection and more specifically mapping, which consists of projecting directly onto a three-dimensional volume rather than a flat screen, but we are sensitive to all products which generate light, from LEDs and lasers to simple construction site neon tubes.’

 After the renovation of the Social Club in Paris in 2007 and the Metavilla for the Pavillon Français during the Venice Biennale in 2006 (a hotel able to accommodate up to forty people), 1024 has just produced the roofing cover for a school of archaeology site at St Denis on invitation from Patrick Bouchin and the temporary restaurant ‘Les Grandes Tables’ on Ile Seguin. The latter being a bio and temporary restaurant, built in a preliminary garden, to accompany the reconstruction of an island steeped in history whilst waiting for Jean Nouvel’s proposed development project. Once again architecture which must disappear without a trace or the exact opposite of the fundamental mission symbolically assigned to architecture: to create memoirs or history, by erecting buildings which are as resistant as possible, to pass on a little engineering from an era. In ‘Notre Dame de Paris,’ Victor Hugo already noted the victory of printing over architecture, a technical and creative revolution which made architecture null, void and decadent stripping it of its need ‘to write the world with stones.’ Printed work was more exciting, easier and faster to distribute, and would attract talent by diverting it from the construction of architectural masterpieces. At the time of shock of digital, how can we not see 1024’s pixelated and fleeting architecture as the symbol of a new acceleration of this deterioration process of the real facing virtual? ‘As architects expected to build for eternity we found that the rules and limits of perennial projects are so far-fetched that they often limit possibilities and creativity. The fleeting dimension of our projects allows us to be liberated and open to larger and more stimulating grounds for expression and freedom.’ Duly noted.