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François Roche / R&Sie(n)

An architect since 1989, François Roche (b. 1961, Paris) is the co-founder and head of several labels dedicated to different segments of his creative activity. For example, New-Territories, founded in 1993, is in the words of the architect a ‘speculative label, used mainly for research’. It is represented by the androgynous avatar ‘_S/he_’, a fictional character that allows the members of the group to remain anonymous. Under other labels, Roche and his partners seek to ‘produce mythomanias’, as with MindmachineMakingMyths (M4), or to create ‘a fiction of reality’ with R&Sie(n), which in French reads as ‘heresy’. With R&Sie(n), considered as the ‘productive label’, they explore innovative methods and subvert architectural conventions to get off the beaten track. By making room for chance, the subconscious and the world of dreams, they provoke a conceptual and formal turnaround.

I’ve heard about (2005) is one of the flagship projects of the New-Territories_R&Sie(n) collective. This urban project, rooted in both science and speculative reality, promotes the idea that architecture can be thought of as a social and political metabolism. It is an interactive and self-managed growth project comprised of habitable vertical concretions, which emerge through a robotic mechanism programmed by a generative algorithm. A pneumatic device shapes fibre-reinforced sprayed concrete into stable habitats with an organic formal language. Close attention is paid to the democratic balance of collective and individual interests. This ongoing dialogue, supported by open-source software, gives rise to a mobile society and an architecture in perpetual mutation. The models, part of the Mudam Collection, illustrate New-Territories_R&Sie(n)’s production methods at different scales, from ‘biological’ growth forms based on incompletion procedures to detailed studies of a web of honeycomb-like housing cells.

Cabinet Hypnotique (2005) is also part of his research. Built to scale, it acts as a zone of psychic perception. This immersive space was designed in collaboration with philosopher and psychoanalyst François Roustang (b. 1923, Loisey, France – d. 2016, Paris), in reference to the occult sciences and the ‘Somnambulistes Magnétiques’ (‘Magnetic Somnambulists’), a late 19th century feminist movement.

Taken as a whole, this group of works – which also includes digital films and a book written as a social protocol between the residents, outlining a set of evolving uses – presents the notion of a world where technology flirts with the principle of self-organisation. It is produced using cutting-edge technology: computers, robotics, rapid model prototyping using selective laser sintering (SLS), and digital milling (CNC) for the Cabinet Hypnotique. In this way, I’ve heard aboutconveys the idea that a different kind of social organisation is possible, one that is perceptible in the richness of its forms, but that can also be experienced under hypnosis when the cabinet is activated. For Roche, the project directly echoes the book Utopia by Thomas More (b. 1478 – d. 1535, London), but where the central concept would be ‘fictional without utopia’


  1. François Roche / R&Sie(n) I’ve heard about (Modèles de sécrétion), 2005

    Ensemble de 20 maquettes
    Poudre de résine et poudre de maïs
    Dimensions variables
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    © Photo : R&Sie

  1. François Roche / R&Sie(n) Le Cabinet Hypnotique, 2005

    Structure en résine et polyester
    900 x 600 x 300 cm
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Acquisition 2005
    © Photo : Andrés Lejona

  1. François Roche / R&Sie(n) I’ve heard about, 2005

    Film 3D
    20 min
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Acquisition 2007
    © Photo : Jens Ziehe, Berlin

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