Drawing and Creating the Pattern of the City


Brussels Junction

We always pass by transport infrastructures. Indispensable for the good operation of metropolis, they are part of urban landscape whether we like them or not. In Brussels, the build of a central railway has deeply nicked the city in its middle. From the ambiguous relation between people and this infrastructure, I’ve proposed a different way to appropriate this urban scar. So, I’ve thought the infrastructure as layers which could integrate horizontal functions following the example of the mere rail. From the bottom to the top, we could find the road way, the rail way, modular spaces, technical plateaus, housings and the outside area. The shape of housing permit a new approach of living, where modular cubes are support of adaptable houses. Then, the outside area returns the sky to human eye rather than transport machine. Hence, it offers a common floor where habitants can meet and pool installations.


This Project lies in the heart of the European capital, Brussels, Belgium. From the ascertainment we are living in a world continually growing, we have to support cities’ expansion and deal with their growing density. Start from this situation, I first drew an utopia which shows how to build the cities ‘emptiness. This empties calling “reserves” are the guarantors of free spaces inside the future Brussel, BXXL. Each of them provide a general function necessary of the metropolitan life such as Forest, Agriculture, Water, or Sport. Beyond the Utopia, we could already find some places in Brussels which we could assimilate to reserves. The case of the administrative city has been for me the support of a “learning reserve”. Keeping the emptiness as an Agora for knowledge where all people could exchange and investigate the place freely.


When we think about the Movie Lost in Translation of Sofia Coppola, we’re immediately flooded by the immensity of Tokyo. Indeed, the feeling of being nothing near the tentacular megalopolis could quickly reach us. However, we could choose to cling to the infinite small scale, which provide the balance we need to live inside such a density. This is the sense I wanted to transmit by my drawings. In my view, abundance and detail allows us to maintain control over our urban creation like Tokyo. Manny people, when they arrive in a big city, experience the desire to get up height and observe the city from sky buildings. I know, it’s fascinated, and I’m still continuing to admire Tokyo from every height building on my way. But there is this other fascinated side too, which consists to pay attention of every little, tiny detail we could find around us. This outlook transform our city’ experience into a fantastic discovery playground.


Who influences you graphically?

I’ve been influenced by Éva Le Roi, an illustrator with whom I’ve had the chance to interact during my architectural master’s degree. The rigor with which she uses to build her illustrations speak to me and the way she plays with urban scale is really remarkable. Then I’m particularly interested in narrative’s aspect of Diane Bergs’ drawings. I think it’s important to take advantage of the media we use, and narration is certainly one of the main possibility that drawing could provide. It’s the reason why I also use to take some inspiration from graphic novels as those from Taiyo Matsumoto.

What is your take on the axonometric/isometric projection? What defined your preference for this viewpoint?

I often choose axonometric/isometric projection because it allows kind of infinity of the drawing. Because every element is drawn in the same scale, we can decide their importance regardless of perspective ground and spread the drawing as far as we want. Regarding urban drawing, I like the rigor of the repetition, somehow, it’s like creating the city’s pattern.

How and to what extent does your photographic work influence the way you operate as an architect?

Working as an architect is to manage incessantly between the emptiness and the abounding. I think taking pictures help me to considerate both sides. I like to play with the ambivalence permitted by the photography because we can decide to present the minimalist aspect of a scene as well as its impression of abundance. Then, I believe photography teaches me to organize space thinking. Indeed, taking picture is like ordering a view. When I walk around a city, everything seems rather messy, and interpreting by the photography forces me to hierarchize what I want to communicate.

How do mediums as the photograph and video mediate the city to the individual? How did Coppola’s film frame your initial perception of Tokyo? How and to what extent did the physical experience of the city then alter your vision?

I see the video as a medium capable to transmit further atmosphere of places. The audio dimension of the film Lost in Translation communicates remarkably the contrast in Tokyo, alternating between silent and abounding noise. It’s something I could really feel arriving in Tokyo. However, traveling by my own allows me to tame the global scale and create my personal vision of the city, like a mind puzzle where any little part explored provides nuances and complexity to the place.

What is your take on the sketch as prime tool of the architect?

I consider sketch as a personal tool which get a unique dimension to creative work. I mostly use fine pen because I like to go deeper on details and be surprised by the pattern resulting at the end. In fact, I usually start my drawings focusing on a detail which speak to me in particular, instead of building the general shape before.


Cécile Brissez graduated from Lille’s Ecole Nationale Superieur d’Architecture et du Paysage in 2015. After working at the architecture studio Coldefy & Associates she moved to Tokyo where she currently works as freelance illustrator.