Discover Benelux | Issue 16 | April 2015

Page 33

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Innovative Architecture

One direction? No thanks Architect Samuel Cajet is never going to suffer from boredom. It’s not just that he’s involved in such diverse projects, but that he sees what’s unique in each and treats them accordingly. TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: FRANçOIS BURGUN

Samuel explains his approach: “I put the maximum into each project – furniture and interior design as well as architecture. I dislike the idea of buildings or apartments or designed objects being identical ‘units’: each is unique. Every client is different, their situation, the site, so they each merit individual creativity.” A graphic example of that attitude and how it functions for clients is to be seen in two restaurants on which he worked in Grenoble before establishing his own firm. The two were side-by-side in identical empty shells produced by another company. “It was a fascinating experience,” he says: “The themes of the two restaurants were entirely different, so they needed their own unique personalities and atmospheres to be established in spaces

that were identical before the interior was designed and built.” Seeing how things differ, and why they should, may come from his rather unconventional route into architecture: “I studied the very practical side of the business at school, covering things like construction and surveying in a technical Baccalaureate, then I did a year of fine arts before beginning my architecture studies. And during my architecture training I worked with various different practices to maximise my experience in the time available.” In 2010 he qualified and set up his own firm Agence d’Architecture SCA in Paris, near the Place de la Bastille, that now has three additional staff members. The practice deliberately seeks to work in diverse

fields, from the smaller scale like adding extensions and additional storeys to existing buildings, and interior design work, to far larger projects. Two such major undertakings on his books at present again underscore his love of variety: “Having just completed two apartments, we are now working on a nursery in Paris, and an office and apartment complex of about 3,000 square metres in Ivry-sur-Seine,” he relates. Cooperation with Manuel Sequeira, whose practice is in the same building, and various international commitments bring yet more diversity to his portfolio: “I’d hate to be confined to one style, one type of structure, one direction,” he says. No danger of that.

Issue 16 | April 2015 | 33