Jacques Hondelatte, an absolute master of radicalness

An exhibition at Betts Projects in London pays tribute to one of the architects who made the greatest impact on his generation, but still little known outside of France.

Jacques Hondelatte, Bordeaux Law Courts, 1989

Betts Project in London hosts the second ever solo presentation of French architect Jacques Hondelatte, which will be launched this Sunday, December 3. Curated by Juan Perez-Amaya and Felix Beytout, the exhibition will show previously unseen archive documents and unknown projects by the French pioneer of digital architecture.

Though little known to the general public and mainly published in specialized journals, Jacques Hondelatte (1942-2002) nonetheless remains cult, a public figure who made the greatest impact on his generation, including renowned architects such as Jean Nouvel and Rudy Ricciotti. In 1998, he won the Grand Prix National de l’Architecture and, the same year, the Institut Français d’Architecture devoted a solo exhibition to his work curated by Patrice Goulet, who also signed the only existing monograph on the architect from Bordeaux, titled Jacques Hondelatte: Des gratte-ciel dans la tête.

Jacques Hondelatte, Bordeaux Law Courts, Facade marbre, 1989
Jacques Hondelatte, Bordeaux Law Courts, Facade marbre, 1989. Digital collage. Courtesy the estate of the artist and Betts Project

In the mid-1980s, Hondelatte became interested in information technology not only as a perfected, functional tool, but as a medium that is able to overhaul design methods. His work is characterized by rigorous precision, a sharp eye for details and intense poetry: one can’t miss to observe a shift in the essence of the architectural project, as the materiality of the construction ceases to be the primary element and the architect refuses any resemblance with reality, though without transitioning to utopia. As described by Jean Nouvel, a longtime friend and associate, “Hondelatte’s architecture is based on abstraction and discussion and no longer derived from drawings”, thus resulting in incredibly minimalistic plans through which he metamorphoses the most difficult problems into a dazzling solution.

Jacques Hondelatte, Bordeaux Law Courts, Facade H, 1989
Jacques Hondelatte, Bordeaux Law Courts, Facade H, 1989. Digital collage, courtesy the estate of the artist and Betts Project
Title:
Jacques Hondelatte
Opening dates:
3 December 2017 – 3 February 2018
Curators:
Juan Perez-Amaya, Felix Beytout
Venue:
Betts Projects
Address:
100 Central Street, London

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