loci anima is an architecture, design and urban planning studio founded by Françoise Raynaud in 2005. Located on the top floor of Pathé Wepler, in the sky above Place Clichy in Paris, the studio has 25 architects together with an office in New York, directed by Jonathan Thornhill. In Latin, “loci anima” literally means “the soul of place”: every living being, object, but also natural element is animated by a spirit, a vital force, an energy. A philosophy that Françoise Raynaud summarizes in three words “post-industrial animism”. Laureate of numerous international competitions, loci anima conceives thus buildings in permanent conversation with the vegetable, spaces in town which receive plants and animals and landscapes to inhabit.
“Look at nature, that’s where your future is,” said Leonardo da Vinci. Nature invented everything, it is our future. It does not waste, produces without waste at low energy levels, and recycles itself permanently. loci anima is also inspired by it. The studio creates architectures for living, economical, practical, clever and recyclable; spaces designed as living beings that put nature at the heart of the human ecosystem. The Pont d’Issy urban quarter, Manhattan apartment buildings, Les Fauvettes cinema in Paris, the Alpha media library in Angoulême, the A4-Est urban quarter in Boulogne-Billancourt, and many other projects all bear witness to this.
What defines me best is what I eat. An inveterate Darwinian (given the lack of a more likely theory), I push my rejection of cannibalism in space and in time. I only eat living creatures that are as remote as possible from our evolutionary chain. This means all plant life and a large number of aquatic animals when they are not a threatened species or very evolved, and with the exception of gastropods and cephalopods to which I feel particularly close (a proximity which still today remains unexplained). What we eat is our social, geographic and familial history, it is also the story that we want to tell and share, from the material to the ideology. Architecture goes in the other direction, from the ideology to the material. Each project is always an opportunity for me to push the ideas that are close to my heart: Rejection of preconceived ideas, suspicion of theories, against proselytizing in the name of my own freedom. Respect for nature and for all of the beings with which we share and will continue to share our earth for another few billion years /but against nature when it preaches that might is right. All I’m doing is trying to live my life in harmony with my ideas. Yet, our brains, our boxes used for thinking and designing spaces, are not irremediably matter that needs to be fed.
New York Office
Through my experience of working in many different countries and cultures, my energy is now essentially directed towards our international projects and the challenge of initiating our work in NY. I seek the beauty in the detail and constructivity of a subject. I have always been drawn towards making objects, be it a ceramic bowl, wooden box or a building. The transformation of ideas and concepts into physical matter is an amazing process from intuition to being, from nothing into something. We now extend this in an inverse manner with the preoccupation of transformation from a solid state to another and finally liberating matter into energy at the end of an objects physical life, so that we don’t waste our natural resources. I see our work to channel and harness all that energy into physical structures that are designed to a specific function and have a pleasing proportion through analysis and design method, like in nature where all is a matter of selection and evolution.
Alexandra du Couëdic,
A graduate of the French Business School EDHEC, I started out in the consulting world before moving on to communication and new media. My professional choices have always been geared towards unique, innovative projects in the fields of sports marketing, digital technology, and currently urbanism and architecture. My dream was to play a role in the construction of a better way of living together! I met Françoise Raynaud while working on a Havas Sport project for the America’s Cup. For nearly a year, I worked and “lived” in her itinerant building, a recycled and recyclable building designed on the basis of containers, scaffolding with canvass sunscreens and communications media. I was struck by the intuition, the ingenuity and the audacity of this building and the choices made the architect. When Françoise Raynaud set up loci anima, 10 years ago now, I offered to bring my organisational, management and development skills to this new firm. I experienced a veritable baptism by fire when I managed and monitored the construction of the firm’s first building. Today, seeking to extend my responsibilities, I’d like to capitalise on the know-how of loci anima and enlarge the scope of its activities, providing alternative responses so that we can reinvent the city of tomorrow, a green city that is respectful and well-disposed towards nature and towards its inhabitants.
A graduate of the school of ‘architecture de la ville et du territoire’, I completed my diploma HMONP within the agency. After a successful internship, I joined the Loci Anima family in 2012, working on projects such as Angoulème’s multi-media library and the Gaumont Gobelins cinema. I perceive architecture as an element inscribed into the environment, at the service of its users; eliminating the superfluous and focussing on the value of the materials. The sharing of knowledge between the architect, design schools and companies has great significance in my vision of architectural quality. I also love discovering the different cultures that make up our little planet, wandering through wide open spaces and watching the night fall on couples dancing to the rhythm of kizomba and samba.
During my studies at the Paris Villemin Architecture School, I joined the Christian Hauvette team in which I spent more than ten years. I have been responsible for such projects as the Usinor group offices, the Rector of Guyana offices, laboratories of the Institute of Analytical Sciences and Cemagref, and many other public competitions such as the rehabilitation of the Maison de Radio France. In parallel, I am developing personal ecological projects, especially in Normandy, a draft of which has been declared «winner of laurel wood construction», or Egypt, where the project was published in the «100 green buildings» from Taschen. I joined the team of Loci Anima in 2014.
Canadian-born, I studied architecture in Montreal. Graduating in 1997 I settled in France in 1999, and first worked with Jean Nouvel. I came to Loci Anima in 2010 to join the team on PPP: Ballard (Ministry of Defence) Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris and private enterprises like the Immeuble de Grande Hauteur d’Issy-les-Moulineaux. I am sensitive to the needs of the environment and the appropriateness of a building’s façade and structure. As soon as I have a little free time, I seek refuge in Provence, to me the most beautiful place in the world.
Originating from Toulouse, I arrived in Paris in 2004 to finish my studies at l’école de Paris la Villette. At the same time I joined the agency Wilmotte & Associates for 3 years. I worked on international projects (hotel accommodation in Moscow, the International School of Geneva, urban planning in Amman, Jordan…) I joined Loci Anima in 2007 where I was in charge of the Angoulême multi-media Library and the Gaumont Pathé cinemas ( Gaumont Ambassade et Gaumont Gobelins). Passionate about the theatre, as a spectator, the stage has now become my second «TV»…
Originating from Poland, I arrived in France to study architecture at ESA then at ENSAPB. Since 2007 I have worked on a mixed portfolio of many different projects: (housing, commercial, and industrial) in France, Belgium, Poland and Russia, as well as the Archives Nationales de France project at Massimiliano Fuksas. Since I arrived at Loci Anima in 2010, I have collaborated on different agency projects and since 2011 have been in charge of the Koala and DNA towers at Issy les Moulineaux. Fascinated by the fusion of the arts, I split my time between architecture and painting.
After graduating in Architecture in Japan in 2002, I first worked a year in France for Architecture Studio and then a year in Japan at Tadamasa KANO workshop. I returned to France in 2004 to get my degree at the Paris Val de Seine School of architecture. I met Francoise Raynaud at this time. For the last 10 years I have worked mainly on the design phase in developing data volumes in 3D and 2D. Sometimes I do detailed studies in 3D. As a Japanese architect, I would love it if one day the agency could have some projects over there. In the meantime, as an amateur sportsman I play rugby in Paris…in a Japanese team!