Rudy Ricciotti is today an outstanding figure in French architecture and one of the major players in its new wave. An activist who refuses the exile of beauty. From the Black Pavilion in Aix-en-Provence to the Footbridge of Peace in Seoul, from the Jean Cocteau Museum in Menton to that of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (Mucem) in Marseille, his creations express a magnificent dimension that of the field of combat. For this French builder-engineer born in Algeria in 1952, architecture is a mission: “Shaping reality, that’s romanticism. Only the transformation of reality is the great revolutionary project, the only way to stay alive. »
A “paranoid and psychopathic” Mediterranean architect, as he likes to define himself, he admits that he does not aspire to wisdom. “To move forward, you have to know how to share knowledge,” he says again. Rudy Ricciotti is a builder of spaces but also of words that resonate justly, radiate benevolence and exalt empathy. Keeping in touch with poetry to escape the terror of reality in order to be able to transform it and not sink into disillusion is her real fight. He does not speak of ambition but of objective. That of exceeding the standards as one would cross a tight mesh to retain only the essential. Utopia upsets him, it remains this sad definition which prevents him from approaching the world with a worried lucidity. Ricciotti was awarded the Grand Prix National d’Architecture and the Gold Medal of the Foundation of the Academy of Architecture. He was named Knight of the Legion of Honor, Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters and finally Officer of the National Order of Merit.
Passing through Lebanon as part of the cycle of debates on ideas organized by the French Embassy and the French Institute in Lebanon, for an exchange with Bernard Khoury on the theme “Architect, a whole profession”, which took place on May 9 at the Résidence des Pins, he answered questions from L’Orient-Le Jour.
Did architecture impose itself on you as an evidence?
It was a big misunderstanding. When I was young, I thought it was an outdoor job, like a footballer or a farmer. Coming from a family of builders, I had the experience of building at a very young age. I accompanied my father on construction sites and very early on I had a great respect for the workers.
Who are the architects who have had an influence on you?
When I started out, I greatly admired Fernand Pouillon, but it was above all the world of work that fascinated me. You are not an architect alone and you have to know how to pay homage, request and use the two magic formulas: “please” and “thank you”.
How do you define the profession of architect?
Rather than a conductor’s function, I would rather define it as an accordionist’s profession. Each fold is a profession in itself, the mason, the carpenter, or the formworker… And my role is to breathe air, a kind of breathing so that the sound is harmonious. To be an accomplished architect, you have to honor this profession while waiting for it to return it to you. You need empathy and benevolence, but one that does not exclude combat. Today, even the symbolic gesture of shaking hands no longer exists. I recognize myself as a mannerist architect, who advocates the superposition of knowledge and risk taking.
How to convey architectural values and preserve ethics in architecture?
By the fight. The bureaucracy has mutated like a virus. Created to encourage the democratic movement, it is today, two centuries later, in the opposite dynamic. Bureaucracy harms democracy, it has understood that by creating nuisance it renews its existential territory. She destroys herself from within. My job is a story of several people, my collaborators are my tribe and my family. I do not accept any vanity, I advocate solidarity. We are brothers in arms. My agency is a warship where everyone has a well-defined function.
Your love affair with concrete?
The lightweight and fiber-reinforced concrete that I use opens doors but comes with very high demands. It’s like handling dynamite, it requires transversality in very high-level engineering. It is a local material that renews the memory of the territory.
You have many projects in the cultural field, is it a coincidence?
Rather, it is a destiny that has been made over time. My natural penchant for culture stems from my love of words. Language is a universal vector that constantly reminds us that we all have a common memory to share.
An architectural work that particularly moves you?
Rather a city: Rome fascinates me. Each of its walls is a landscape that whispers stories and exudes a powerful eroticism. I have sometimes rested my forehead on its walls to cross time.
Between a night with the most beautiful woman in the world and winning an architecture competition that is close to your heart?
I would choose a night with the most beautiful Lebanese woman.
Rudy Ricciotti is today an outstanding figure in French architecture and one of the major players in its new wave. An activist who refuses the exile of beauty. From the Black Pavilion in Aix-en-Provence to the Footbridge of Peace in Seoul, from the Jean Cocteau Museum in Menton to that of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (Mucem) in Marseille, his achievements…