/// A LOOK AT: Matthieu Poitevin, the architect-gardener

09 Oct /// A LOOK AT: Matthieu Poitevin, the architect-gardener

In November 2017, Batimat will be launching the first edition of Regard sur l’Architecture, a publication for the show’s exhibitors and visitors that will present exceptional projects with use at the heart of their design.

The “Friche* la Belle de Mai”, an emblematic cultural centre in Marseille, is one of the projects featured. Interview with Matthieu Poitevin, the lead architect of an exemplary rehabilitation project.



L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui: The Friche la Belle de Mai is one of the projects featured in Regard sur l’Architecture. What do you think of Batimat’s editorial initiative?

Matthieu Poitevin: The construction industry is starting to take an interest in buildings that used to be demolished no questions asked. That’s a good thing, it’s comforting. It proves that beauty lies in these time-worn buildings, and now everyone can see it.


L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui: For this project, what was the biggest challenge that you encountered and how did you resolve it?

Matthieu Poitevin: Everything was a challenge! Building without a programme. Building with people already working onsite.  Building a well-known destination in a place where no one went. Building a three-dimensional public space. Building with as little as possible to provide as much as possible.  Making magic out of thin air and believing in the future, my goodness! Getting everyone on board for a stationary journey.

There were so many challenges! The one I’m most proud of was probably refusing to compromise on the ultimate goal for the building.


L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui: Your work on the Friche la Belle de Mai illustrates an essential issue, that of adapting architecture so that it is appropriated by the users. How did you incorporate use issues into your project?

Matthieu Poitevin: I disagree. Appropriation infers ownership. I don’t think that’s the issue. It’s more about shared spaces. We share the big tables in the restaurant, the outdoor areas, the streets, the square! People who appropriate space start by putting bin bags up on the windows, then curtains, then bars. It’s a place where otherness needs to find its home.

Use is just the least of things. It’s not the end goal, quite the opposite. Everything has to be done perfectly. You have to define everything based on what you’re asked to do but leave everything unfinished so that imagination can take root and if necessary, change everything as opportunities arise.

Interview realized by “L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui”  in August, 2017.



Batimat is a committed observer of major trends in the sector, and launched the Regard sur l’Architecture programme during the 2016 Biennale Architettura in Venice, based on a simple, yet essential question: Architects are visionaries, but what impact do their buildings have on residents and users? What is the fruit of the architect’s ultimate aim of improving our living conditions?

Regard sur l’Architecture is a 12-month field survey with those designing, constructing and living in new builds, providing new insight into a selection of recently developed unique buildings, which have been chosen for the quality of their “architectural solutions” to a given issue such as emergency, social or collaborative housing.

The findings from Regard sur l’Architecture will be published in November 2017 in a beautiful book and presented during a series of meetings with the contributors, organised by our partner L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, on the afternoon of Wednesday 8 November during the Batimat show.


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