Conversation with Anthony Bechu, forward-thinking and committed architect


Founded in 1920, the architecture agency Anthony Bechu is today runned by the grandchildren of the founder, and his two daugters, Clémence and Aliénor. Since the 1950s, the agency's achievements already included bioclimatic principles and nature. It is today biomimicry(*) which inspires its projects, as much as possible. Conversation with Anthony Bechu.


IB: In 2014, you won the competition for the architectural design of an environmentally responsible university in the Moroccan desert, which will be energetically(**) and visually blended into the landscape. And you have built an eco-friendly village in Russia, whose layout and orientation of the houses enabled substantial energy savings, taking inspiration from a group of penguins on the ice floes. Today, you talk about the "regenerative town", what is it?


Anthony Bechu: In 2050, 80% of the world's population will be living in cities. It is necessary to rethink the town, so that it can organically and naturally grow and handle this foreseeable inhabitant flow while offering them a flourishing environment; the human beeing has to connect oneself again with the environment, the farming world has to settle in the city, in the context of balanced economic exchanges. The idea is to create "mixed cities" inside the city, like a juxtaposition of villages where everything is intertwined, accommodations, natural areas, offices, services and shops. It means increasing the density by increasing the verticality, so as to freed up floor space and reintroduce cultivated areas inside the city to facilitate short channels, to help the towns to become more adaptable to the consequences of climate change.

IB: Research and development are part of the everyday life of an architecture agency. You use parametric and biophilic design, what is it?

Anthony Bechu: Research and development is a daily practice, that comes directly from our experience and the diversity of our projects we are working on: it allows us to optimise the exchange and the sharing of experience. Today, an architect works on four-dimensional (4D) projects: the parametric design allows to add field, climate and weather parameters to the drawing to achieve the structure and energy targets set. Biophilia, it is to love and to get inspired by living beings and to bring back nature inside the house, through colours and shapes or by creating an interior garden: it helps us to remain connected to the essence of life to the experience a real well being as we are all part of it, biophilia helps us to reconnect our senses with nature.


IB: Established for four generations, your agency has a close relationship with the word "to transfer". As Director of the American School of Fine Arts of Fontainebleau, you have open an international summer university of music and architecture. To associate music and architecture may be confusing to the uninitiated?

Anthony Bechu: The American School of Fine Arts of Fontainebleau was founded at the start of the 20th century by the Government of the United States represented by General Pershing to promote cultural exchanges with France. Supported in particular by the Rockfeller Foundation, the initial aim was to give back the taste of life through involvement in the practice of art to American soldiers who have been through traumatic experiences during the fighting. Music and architecture are still taught to this day, within a summer university to have students of each disciplines work together on common themes. An architect is an orchestral conductor who has to select the best skills to set them to music in order to complete a project. A musical composition, it is architecture.


Aliénor Bechu, Clémence Bechu and Anthony Bechu

(*) biomimicry: scientific approach formalised by Jeanine Benyus in 1998,  where design and production of materials, structures and systems are modelled on biological entities and processes.
(**) 80% passive building

Photos © AAAB

Anthony Bechu Architecture Agency >>

Thursday 23 January 2020, 05:32