LafargeHolcim Foundation Who is Who in sustainable construction


Jean-Philippe Vassal


Jean-Philippe Vassal is Principal of Lacaton & Vassal Architectes, based in Paris.

Jean-Philippe Vassal and Anne Lacaton formed architectural practice Lacaton & Vassal in Bordeaux in 1987. Lacaton & Vassal received the Grand Prix National d’Architecture in France in 2008.

The firm designed the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art gallery in Paris, completed in 2001. The project, a bare bones reclamation of a semi-derelict art deco building near the Seine, was short-listed for the Mies van der Rohe prize in 2003 and has been immensely influential as perhaps the most extreme of found-space galleries.

Openly proclaiming to be a reflection and search for architectural economy, the work undertaken by Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal focuses on reduced-cost constructions in order to rejuvenate the dialogue with contracting authorities. Research on hybridizations, between a contemporary building concept and the use of the most diversified techniques, produces projects that make the most of construction programs by upsetting building contractors' standard usages.

In 2005, Lacaton & Vassal and architect Frédéric Druot were selected to reshape the Tour Bois le Prêtre, a 17-story housing tower on the city’s northern edge designed by architect Raymond Lopez in 1957. The team cut away most of the thick façade’s panels, installing balconies and large sliding windows in their place. Besides opening the apartments to more natural light, the units are being significantly enlarged and opened, and the firm installed new plumbing, bathrooms, ventilation, and electric systems. The project won the Design of the Year by the UK’s Design Museum in 2013. The practice has received several awards, among them the Erich Schelling Award in 2006, the International Fellowship of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2009, and the Daylight and building components of the Velum Foundation, Copenhagen, 2011.

Jean-Philippe Vassal graduated from the School of Architecture, Bordeaux in 1980, and spent the following five years in Niger as an architect and town planner. He has been visiting professor at the Architecture School of Versailles (2002-06), Architecture School of Bordeaux (1992-99), Peter Behrens School of Architecture at the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences (2005), Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) (2007-10), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPF Lausanne) (2010-11) and Universität der Künste Berlin (UDK Berlin) (since 2012).

He presented a keynote address at the 2nd International Holcim Forum 2007 in Shanghai and he presented the case study Transformation of a housing block in St. Nazaire in the workshop Manage complexity - With integral solutions to an economy of means at the 3rd International Holcim Forum 2010 in Mexico City.

He was a member of the Holcim Awards jury for region Europe in 2008 and 2011, and head of the Holcim Awards jury for region Europe in 2014.

Last Updated: October 02, 2014
Paris, France