Lacoste, France

Windshape was an ephemeral structure commissioned in 2006 by the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) as a gathering space for students and as a venue to host events in their Provence campus in Lacoste, France. Windshape became the main public meeting space in the small town, and hosted concerts, exhibitions, and ceremonial gatherings throughout the summer of 2006. The project was designed by nARCHITECTS, and built by our office + a team of SCAD students over a period of five weeks.

Windshape was conceived as an inhabitable outdoor environment, consisting of two eight metre high pavilions that dynamically changed with the Provençale wind. A structural vine-like network of white plastic pipes, joined together and stretched apart by aluminum collars, emerged from the limestone walls and terraces of Lacoste’s hillside. Fifty kilometers of white polypropylene string, threaded through the structural lattice, were woven to create swaying enclosures. The string was woven into dense regions and surfaces and pinched to define doorways, windows and spaces for seating.

By varying the degree of tension in the string, Windshape responded to the wind in several ways, from rhythmic oscillations to fast ripples across its surfaces. During heavy winds, Windshape moved dramatically, and made a hissing sound akin to dozens of jump-ropes. The pavilions took on a multitude of temporary forms over the course of the summer, as they billowed in and out with the wind, and momentarily came to rest. In this way, the local winds and the Mistral gave shape to constantly mutating structures. The pavilions were illuminated at night against the backdrop of the Marquis de Sade’s castle, and visible as a glowing building from as far as the neighboring village of Bonnieux, 5km away.

Windshape was a laboratory that allowed us to test the idea of a building that can respond to natural stimuli. Rather than sheltering us from the elements alone, buildings of the future could connect inhabitants to the wind, reminding them of its strength and beauty.

Client : Savannah College of Art and Design
Project Location : Lacoste, France
Status : 2006
Program : Ephemeral Pavilions
Awards : AIA NYC Design Honor Award, AR+D Honorable Mention
nARCHITECTS Team : Eric Bunge, Mimi Hoang; Daniela Zimmer (Project Architect); Takuya Shinoda, Shuji Suzumori
Collaborators : Curator: Sarah Walko
Fabrication: nARCHITECTS, with SCAD (Jim Bischoff, Michael Gunter, Cindy Hartness, Michael Porten, Ryan Townsend, Troy Wandzel, with Natalie Bray and c)