The h2o bench is one component of the winning design for the urban project competition for the main square of Valenciennes, a town in the north of France. Drawing from previous research on global urban conditions and “in-between situations”, the design concept is centred on the ideas of indeterminacy and instability. It offers opportunities for user appropriation by encouraging invention of activities and modification of the individual’s place in increasingly controlled social spaces.
The research focused on the investigation of five themes: minimal form, non-orientation, sculptural quality, flexibility and additive qualities. These five elements also relate the narrative identity of the object: what do objects tell us?
The architects’ bench dissociates itself from ordinary conditions which typically join the identity of an object’s form to its function. Here, it is the use which guarantees the final purpose of the object. The visual simplicity of the basic module is reinforced by its materiality. The thin shell of Ductal® fiber concrete – at once skin and structure – embodies the material’s inherent form. Thanks to games of assemblage, flipping and inversion the bench becomes a game of correlations: at once stool, chair, bench, and meeting place.
ARCHITECT: h2o architectes, Paris, France, www.h2oarchitectes.com
. LOCATION: Valenciennes, France. PROJECT TEAM: Charlotte Hubert, Jean-Jaques Hubert, Antoine Santiard. STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Nicolas Sterling ingénieur. MANUFACTURER: BMI-AZULY with Lafarge. MATERIALS: Ductal® fiber concrete.
COPYRIGHT: h2o architectes. PHOTOES: Stéphane Chalmeau.
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