Architecture Without Context


Office and warehouse
Office and warehouse


Who influences you graphically?

Mies van der Rohe and his collages, Louis Kahn and his pastel drawings, de Chirico, Hopper, Matisse… But also many young architects who outline new forms of representation.

What is the effect and purpose of juxtaposing figures form the paintings of Gauguin? How do they influence the image?

The juxtaposition of these silhouettes is first and foremost a graphical essay. Their disposition, and colour counterbalance the fixed of the 2D representation by giving it depth.

But it is above all a way for us to express the essence of the project (which in this case is a holiday home in Spain) and a way of living this specific space.

This type of collage allows us to quickly transmit an atmosphere. It is one of our privileged tools, with models, to communicate with our clients.

Summer House
Summer House

The images are very textural-does this relate to the atmosphere or hint to a specific materiality?

We work on these images as study models. We produce several images for each project, at each design phase. They express an idea of the project and rarely a specific materiality, at least not at this stage. We appreciate this type of representation because it allows us to express the essence of the project without determining it in a definitive image.

What do you mean when you say architecture without context? 

The title “architecture without context” refers to a specific image and project, not to our work as a whole. Our work on an a-contextual architecture comes from an order for a series of warehouses. A single project, intended to be built on several sites.

On the one hand, the term “without context” refers to the fact that the design of the project is independent from his building site, but also without a real program because these buildings are mainly used for storage: architecture without context and content.

On the other hand, this refers to the zones in which these buildings are subsequently built: peripheral areas of urban centres, constantly changing and without any landscape or historic grip.

Without context, our work is essentially focused on composition and volumetry, which is what we try to express through these images.

How does the construction of images through the appropriation of fragments from other 'contexts' relate to your notion of architecture without context?

For our warehouse projects, we try to express the abstraction that comes with the absence of context.

The sky and the horizon as anchor to which we add elements drawn from paintings or various elements that inspire us, in order to play with the scale and the graphic expression of the image.

I have been playing, in my own paintings … or rather I have persisted in my painting to take one or two poetic reaction objects and to combine them, even with the human figure, in order to create by the disproportionation of these elements, a poetic phenomenon. ” Le Corbusier

How do you see yourself operating as architects? in or out of context? is it all a continuum? 

We are currently working on very different projects. On the one hand, projects that we have mentioned above, with very abstract contexts and programs, where our approach is more a matter of volumetric work. On the other hand, we are working on very contextualized projects, both by their site and program, which implies a much more sensitive conception. We consider that these approaches, although very different, feed on one another and allow us, as architects, to sketch a theoretical reflection on our practice.


Atelier APA is an architectural practice based in Toulouse, France.