Design & Architecture

Duffau & Associés
9 bis rue de la Colombette
31000 Toulouse - France
+ 33 5 61 32 64 09

Press relationships / Legal notice & copyright

Duffau & Associés
9 bis rue de la Colombette
31000 Toulouse - France
+ 33 5 61 32 64 09

Press relationships / Legal notice & copyright

The tool in common

To know and to give knowledge to be able to interact on an economy on its own scale, is to accept not to make fixed forms. Playing the game of transmitting information about the material and the means of implementation, enabling this data to be archived for the client. Here lies the Open Standard, the work of Ultra Ordinaire. Index reparability involves redesigning a set of elements to create artefacts, elements of architecture that can be parameterised and modulated. They are the fruit of a work between local craftsmanship and digital production in order to allow users to modify, transform and repair this range of elements if necessary. They mesh the sharing of designs, the common work sites, through the distributed factories.

Aujourd'hui, les matériaux recouvrent une dimension évanescente ; ils ont souvent des caractéristiques insaisissables, brisant les synesthésies avec lesquelles les sujets étaient habitués à juger les produits de la nature, ils ont produit un environnement. Les faux bois, les cristaux liquides, les films très résistants ne sont plus lisibles sans ambiguïté, leurs distinctions sont tombées en dessous de notre seuil de reconnaissance  phénoménologique, ils dépendent de leur structure physique et atomique, que seul un chimiste ou un expérimentateur peut reconnaître à l’aide de tests. Nous n'avons plus d'interprétations universelles pour le monde des matériaux. Ils ont perdu cet ensemble de propriétés stables qui nous permettaient autrefois non seulement de les distinguer et de les utiliser correctement, mais aussi de les intérioriser et de les assumer comme une valeur culturelle. La matière a d’ailleurs tant perdu son identité que la question de l’usage des déchets est devenue un élément central ainsi que la question du réemploi. Si une planche de bois massif détient une matérialité et un usage technique permettant éventuellement à l'utilisateur son réemploi, un bois liquide injecté ne dispose pas de cette opportunité. L'honnêteté de la matière doit aller en amont de la question des déchets par le biais  d’une valorisation des matériaux naturels et des savoir-faire locaux culturellement identifiables. Il s’agit d’ouvrir des perspectives donnant des valeurs matérielles nouvelles et culturellement reconnaissables, et de construire des projets frugaux, répondant aux désirs et attentes de la société civile. La première étape de l’usage d’un matériau part de la recherche d'un territoire expressif et d'un imaginaire dans lequel il peut être placé. L'étape suivante est la définition d’un territoire que le matériau peut occuper sur le plan fonctionnel, préfigurant les différentes formes d'application pouvant permettre de comprendre immédiatement et culturellement son évolution et sa pérennité ou son réemploi, souvent un “déjà vu” formel. 


Not always demolishing, destroying and rebuilding, but knowing how to analyse in order to conserve, adapt, reduce and optimise volumes, using materials already on site, developing local know-how and supporting local employment, it is also to perpetuate public investments and to be anchored in a real ecological approach. The honesty of the material must go beyond the issue of waste by valorising natural materials and culturally identifiable local know-how.

"Building means accumulating thing after thing, marking the surface of the globe for better or for worse: by dint of adding, increasing, piling up, we have for some time now come to the point where we no longer build a house in a meadow or next to another house: but on top of it, under it, inside it, in its place. This is the inevitable fate of the earth's crust, which is gradually filling up: power stations, pylons, wires, airports, subways, road and rail networks, industrial plants, dykes, mines, factories, refineries, building complexes, service and information circuits form the redundant mechanism necessary for life. The new nature of the planet is the millions of projects, it is the anti-nature. [...] We must introduce the negative notion of de-project. The de-project is the project conceived in reverse: instead of increasing the quantity of information and materials, the de-project removes it, reduces it, minimises it, simplifies it, rationalises the mechanisms that have been jammed. The de-project is a decongesting creation, which does not have architectural form as its objective."
Alessandro Mendini, in Écrits d'Alessandro Mendini, op.cit. p.127-128.

Not always demolishing, destroying and redoing, but knowing how to analyse in order to conserve, adapt, reduce and optimise volumes, using materials already on site, developing local know-how and supporting local employment, is also a way of perpetuating public investments and anchoring oneself in a real ecological approach. It is an approach that makes do with what exists, that appropriates the place by building on it. It means affirming the volumes, taking into account the past context and imagining the future, so that the whole can evolve. Increasing the legibility of information for users means making it accessible to elements that can be modified and transformed over time.

Landscape, garden and temperate facades

For climatic reasons, buildings need to develop their relationship with green spaces, to improve air circulation, to create a cool transition zone between roadways and to develop biodiversity. The façade proposes this change.

The landscape is an integral part of the design work: it plays an essential role in the development and positioning of the building, whether through the play of framing through openings to the interior or through the link with the thermal environment. The garden conjures up the imaginary of a nature circumscribed by walls or a fence, developing the idea of a micro-space which, from its origins, would bring vegetation and architecture together, structuring it, while a real complicity can be established between the two.

For climatic reasons, the buildings must develop their relationship with vegetated spaces, in favour of better air circulation, a cool buffer zone between roads and the development of biodiversity. The facade proposes this change by means of vegetation and a brise soleil. Semi-shaded, the façade offers the possibility of keeping cool while retaining sunlight. Laying down, implanting, integrating, leaving the landscape and biodiversity free, the façade plays with an inside-out link to work simultaneously with an economic fabric, a social fabric and a societal fabric. Integrated - other than by norms and regulations - the notion of "temperate" displays its action with regard to the challenges of biodiversity and social representations of the city.

Framing and common space, a tool for positive densification

Today, densification includes new organisations, different relationships with the neighbourhood, interior spaces increased by terraces more or less imbricated according to the programmes to multiply the possibilities.

The word frame, from the Latin quadrus (square), is the term used in both painting and architecture to designate an object made up of elements that can be assembled from different materials (wood, stone, marble, etc.) and that form a border surrounding a painting, a door or a window. The purpose of the frame in architecture is to establish transitional elements between the interior and the exterior. This transition is similar to the definition of the frame in painting, by delimiting and materialising space. By marking the limit, the frame converts the void into a thing. Historically, windows affirm a social status through the ornamentation that surrounds them, through the grandeur of their glazing. The frame, as a photographic game on the landscape, was developed by Le Corbusier but took a different form in the suburban context: the suburban dwelling does not seek a link with its neighbour's garden, but rather to create intimacy. 

Today, densification includes new organisations, different relationships with the neighbourhood, interior spaces increased by terraces more or less intertwined according to the programmes to multiply the possibilities: seeing a projected video, doing sport on one's terrace, etc. Landscapes, gardens, terraces, balconies, various activities, transgender housing restructure the link between inside and outside, with the façade, with the increased framing, which develops an active relationship between them. Thus, the ideas of the fringe, with respect to the city centre, first associated with the suburb, then with the peri-urban, could, thanks to the issues of framing, support the idea of positive densification. It is a question of organising life on the edge of the visible city or of a visible life that is constructed through the imagination, of not feeling like a 'border' but rather a place where proximity to the visible rubs shoulders with the cocoon of a family life on an interior garden, an opening. It is a way of relating to a construction of an existing that tries to densify on the scale of the family unit, on the scale of the women, men and children who occupy the space.

Building the A-genre

Reversibility, evolution, modularity: the main quality that a hospital city should have is evolving, modifiable spaces, including maintenance and transformation from their design, with a view to having a multi-use building.

Smartworking and generation Y are developing, employment is changing, housing is in crisis, dissociated from its collective living environment: in other words, the office is dead. The evolution of the city is hampered by the impossibility of solving the complexity of a unitary model inherited from the modern era, and in particular the impossibility of creating links between fragmented places such as suburban areas and historic districts, and work areas. The main quality that a hospital city should have is the weak, incomplete and non-invasive character of the space projects, for example with partial systems, which would be positioned as technical elements in a given environment, which can be repaired, modified, including maintenance and transformation from their design, with a view to having a multi-use building. 

The objective is to identify models of how to do things, hybridisations of typologies, urban logics, which allow to manage the evolution of space, to rely on the energies and cultures of residents and users, and on the potential of territories. Imagining transgender buildings means reconfiguring the whole from spatial systems open to the unforeseen: it is a question of working on the assembly of two families, that of housing and that of the office, in a weak topology, therefore appropriable and transformable. The identification of relational spaces corresponding to the modes of use of the structures built in historical, modern and postmodern society, which has led to the loss of identity of places and sometimes transforms them into desolate landscapes, is essential, because life can take shape there, if the dynamics are accompanied, within a space which draws its quality and identity from microsystems, relationships, signs which are part of the shared local culture. 

Aim : The city within 15 minutes' walk

Developing a city within a 15-minute walk means contributing to making historic centers into hybrid places, outside the logic of gentrification, so that suburban spaces develop spatial approaches to exchange and sharing, by promoting short supply circuits.

The mobility crisis, the development of smart working and self-employment: questions about the privation of public space are generating a greater demand for reconfiguration. The environment is built on metastases; the same approaches can be found more or less everywhere in response to the Pasqua law of 1998, which must allow every citizen to be less than forty-five minutes from a freeway entrance or exit, generating city bypass routes, strings of circular roads, and interchanges, ramps and various bypasses. 

It is necessary to reconsider a complex by leaving the ideological frameworks that have already been tried and tested.  Urban planning, by "zoning" and, more generally, all the instruments with which the architectural culture has processed urban intervention, have been based until now on the hypothesis of the creation of vast homogeneous zones, rationalizing urban planning. Recently, signs of tension between the new suburban districts, the historic center and the additions of modern urbanism put in crisis the "cold" connotations of the planned areas, the isolation of the suburban areas, or the gentrification of the historic city center. The historical city plays the role of a show-luxe-boutique bobo, a temple of consumption where to show off. Attempts to build a modern city become zones of tension and ghettoization. The suburban areas are expanding to give the dream of interiors. According to an American vision of "no parking, no business", hypermarkets are setting up shop with their carpets, while Amazon, under the guise of avoiding the crowds of hypermarkets and their huge parking lots, favors the "entre soi" to the detriment of its carbon footprint and its mitigation plan. The mobility crisis, the spark of the yellow vests protest movement, starts here: the financial possibility of acquiring a peri-urban house does not take into account the high cost of travel for work, extracurricular activities, etc. Moreover, the transformation of employment is confronted with the learning machine and certain professions are threatened by the increased arrival of digital technology in the organization of companies. 

All of this leads to a feeling of confinement between four walls and a garden, or of being overwhelmed in certain anxiety-provoking situations. 

The 15-minute walk to the city is based on this reconfiguration of space to encourage direct and pedestrian forms of supply in favor of biodiversity. This impulse of a common work around the habitat covers a major stake, at the time of the reduction of economic activities, by developing new and complementary economic activities. 

Aim : the +5°

In the light of the new ecological awareness and sensitivities, it is appropriate to confront a great historical change that acknowledges the limits of natural resources.

The functioning of a society based only on the idea of growth and accumulation of wealth is collapsing in the face of the earth's limits. This is the result of an era that has not imagined the consequences of what occupies it today, a "well-being" through consumption. We need to rethink a sustainable method of working, a shift in profitability, and put people back at the centre of the project. A new quality of life must generate a softer and more fruitful relationship between the environment and the artefact, currently damaged by the dispersion or redundancy of numerous technical and expressive innovations stemming from post-modernism. In the light of the new ecological awareness and sensitivities, it is appropriate to confront a great historical change that acknowledges the limits of natural resources. At the beginning of the century, the modern movement had taken up the challenge of industrial production in the name of a "consumer democracy", developing an aesthetic of the serial object and its rationalised minimum according to predefined functions.  

It is a question of accepting the ecological challenge by articulating the project to the technical, cultural and natural environment. The form must follow the environment and not the function. Our daily actions and our domesticity are both the basis of our heritage and the lever for these changes.