Christophe Hutin

  • Year 2007
  • The Plateforme
  • Rennes
  • 10 May to 1 June 2007

“During the interview with Christophe Hutin, which we are showing at his exhibition at La Plateforme, I remembered a rigorous way of thinking that is evident in his work, mostly on individual houses. Two words come to mind: economy and creating space. The first refers to the budgets of relatively inexpensive houses, built with wood or metal frames. While the housing mainstream persists in building small, so-called traditional houses, Christophe Hutin responds with industrial and contemporary techniques. And if he has found an answer to the cost/benefit equation, it is already broadening the offer. This is promising if we think about cost-effective housing on a wider scale. This leads to more general reasoning because the individual house is the object of research by large contractors associated with architects, led by the housing ministry. It is a market for which IKEA is preparing to launch kits, a fertile ground open to new ideas.
Economic efficiency means making space. Christophe Hutin follows a whole part of the ideology of modern architects. I am thinking of Mies van der Rohe’s projects at Weisenhof and Pierre Koënig’s flagship project for his Case Study House in Hollywood Heights. Hutin’s projects are smaller and less posh, but at their level, they make a clean architectural plan, light, through-views, and abundant glazed surfaces accessible to the average person. He brings modernity within the reach of small budgets because his individual houses provide the essentials of architectural quality: integrity of design and space. The designs use an intelligent geometric partition which enables him to prioritize rooms and areas of use. In Bouscat and Tabanac, a partition in four quarters. In Montpeyroux and the Maison Algeco (prototype), one-half day, the other half night. The house in Saint-Jean d’Illac proposes an overall layout composed of a rectangle within a rectangle. Its L-shaped plan integrates the pool with the other three-quarters of the garden. All this makes sense and offers optimal habitability.
This method of working, which is related to his time at Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal’s agency, requires not only architectural knowledge but also an architectural teaching method. It is an approach that invites the inhabitant to upgrade his lifestyle, especially when working in the private market. Living in a transparent house is perhaps not expected by the average buyer, who dreams of a pavilion in a watercolor hanging on the wall of his imagination. Here the imagination is overcome and dispelled by architectural space. It’s no easy task to convince this client. It takes courage and conviction. Savings are a good argument, but they are not the answer to everything.
The imagination in the literal sense of the image appears in two of his projects: the printed flowers that decorate the mountain refuge in the Alps (for Créabois) and the Baobab tower, a symbol of African culture adored by the crowd gathered in front of his museum project in Cape Town, South Africa. Humor and a certain kind of pleasure override rigor to make room for the spectator in the architectural scene. Here a duality emerges, invisible in the houses mentioned above, which may be the signal of future evolution.
Whatever I might say about Christophe Hutin’s houses, to add this or that, I would also say that I could very well live in these houses. I would be happy to do so.”

Marco Tabet, Paris, 20 April 2007