Local Architecture Network was founded in Paris in 2002 by Benoit Jallon (Grenoble, 1972) and Umberto Napolitano (Naples 1975). The office’s trajectory can be inscribed in the more general process of renewal seen in French architecture during the 2000s. In reaction to the aftermath of a lengthy era of postmodernism leading to selfreferential objects juxtaposed in the city, LAN profoundly rethinks the relation between the building and its context.
LAN’s residential projects – student housing in Paris (2011), 79 dwellings in Bègles (2015) and the rehabilitation of the Génicart area in Lormont (2015) – plus a gymnasium and public plaza in Chelles (2012) are open to conceptual and spatial exchange with the stratified urban continuum in which they are inserted. The way LAN thinks about the resilience of shape (“The life of form beyond functionalism,” in the words of Alexandre Labasse, the director of the Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris) is inspired by an interest in continuity, with a clear reference to the post-functionalist strand of architecture seen in Italy, especially work by Aldo Rossi.
Paris as designed by Georges-Eugène Haussmann is the preferred territory for the office’s long-standing exploration of this theme, and was the subject of the big exhibition “Paris-Haussmann: Modèle de ville” by Jallon, Napolitano and Franck Boutté, held at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal in 2017. The 40 dwellings in the Parisian quartier of Batignolles (2014) by LAN are in many aspects a contemporary fragment of Haussmann’s city and exemplary for the close tie that LAN establishes between theory and practice.
Over the years, work by LAN has been remarkably diversified in type. Examples are the EDF archives in Bure (2011), the minimum-security penitentiary in Nanterre (2019) and the Théâtre de Strasbourg Maillon (2019). Its projects have also become urban in scale – see the Polaris area of Nantes (2018). The renewal of the Grand Palais in Paris, due for completion in 2024, is the most prestigious assignment LAN has received. Having developed coherent research on the ordinary urban fabric, the practice now has the occasion to verify and update its approach inside a city-like monument of great scale and symbolic worth.