Urban contemporary: Architects Wilmotte & Associés mark 40 years with new exhibition
Wilmotte & Associés is marking 40 years of creation with an exhibition called ’Architecture Passions’ in Versailles. With 100 projects currently underway in 27 countries, Jean-Michel Wilmotte is the acknowledged leader in converting classified historical monuments for contemporary use, creating iconic buildings and redesigning the visual vocabulary of national museums.
Three of the projects selected for an in-depth presentation perfectly illustrate this; the new Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center in Paris, the Halle Fressinet 1,000 Start-Ups (renamed Station F), due for inauguration in October 2016 and January 2017 respectively, and the scenography of the Rijksmuseum’s exhibition space in Amsterdam. The agency itself is presented together with the activities of the Wilmotte Foundation and its W prize for emerging talent.
The exhibition takes place over three floors in the 18th-century chapel of L’ancien Hôpital royal de Versailles which the agency has just finished reconverting into a cultural and residential space – the biggest urban reconversion project of its kind in France. As an elegant end-of-project gift, Wilmotte constructed a sculpture of golden threads in the circular central hall which was originally modelled on the Pantheon.
Also on view with sketches, scaled models and photographs are the Allianz Riveria Stadium in Nice, the Dakar Multi Purpose Tower, and the Ferrarri Formula and Sporting Management Center in Maranello. An illustrated book of 40 years’ creation entitled Wilmotte Architecture 1975 - 2015, by José Alvarez, and published by Studio Regard in French and English, accompanies the exhibition.
’We’ve been so lucky, for 40 years our agency has had the most fascinating projects to develop, from a 200 sq m house in Royan to the 33,000 sq m Halle Fressinet. It certainly can’t be said that we’re frightened of scale,’ said Wilmotte. ’Just don’t call this a retrospective, that suggests we’re falling asleep.’