Opening expanding spaces: interiors in Lacaton and Vassal

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Andrew Benjamin


The aim of this article is to address the work of the interior in the architecture of Lacaton and Vassal. Integral to the overall argument is the claim that the interior does not have an essential nature. It is thus the site of different forms of life. The linkage to life is intended to create the conditions for actual critical refection on the presence either of claims about the interior in general or projected specific designs.

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Benjamin, Andrew. 2021. “Opening Expanding Spaces: Interiors in Lacaton and Vassal”. Idea Journal 18 (01):113-25.


This article is part of an integrated research project on relational architecture developed by Gerard Reinmuth and Andrew Benjamin. In addition to a range of jointly written and individual papers, the research has also involved a four-year Master’s Studio (2017-2020) in the School of Architecture at the University of Technology, Sydney.

This article needs to be read in relation to my forthcoming paper — ‘Karel Teige and Minimum Dwellings: The Bauhaus’ Other Possibility?’ In Bauhaus x IKEA, edited by Thea Brejzek and Lawrence Wallen (URO Publishing 2021) — in which the engagement with the interior staged here is linked more directly to questions of housing.

Antonio Foscari, Living with Palladio in the Sixteenth Century (Zurich: Lars Muller, 2020).

Regarding Haus Müller, see Leslie Van Duzer and Kent Kleinman, Villa Müller: A Work of Adolf Loos (New York, Princeton University Press, 1994).

Paul Hirst, ‘Foucault and Architecture,’ AA Files, Autumn no. 26 (Autumn 1993): 56.

For an introduction to a rethinking of architecture in terms of the centrality of relationality, see Gerard Reinmuth and Andrew

Benjamin, ‘Autonomy-within- relationality: An Alternative for Architecture After the Global Financial Crisis,’ Interstices

(2020); Gerard Reinmuth and Andrew Benjamin, ‘The Architecture of the Counter- Measure,’ in On Power in Architecture, edited by Mateja Kurir and Urška Jurman (Ljubljana: Maska /Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory, Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO), 2021) [in Slovene]; Andrew Benjamin, ‘Towards an Ontology of the City: Baukuh’s Rossi,’ Journal of Architecture (forthcoming).

There is an interesting affinity between the way agency and design are understood by Lacaton and Vassal here, and Pier Vittorio Aureli’s recent arguments concerning how transformations in construction methods and their connection to design are also linked to recasting questions of agency; See his ‘Architecture Beyond Creation,’ OASE 196 (2020): 55-61.

Speech: affordable housing, ‘Interview Anne Lacaton — More Space, More Light, More Green: A New Vision of Social Housing,’ 2014, 246. https:// data/documents/20141120- 18001914Speech12.pdf

Anne Lacaton and Jean-Pierre Vassal, Freedom of Use (Berlin Sternberg, Press, 2015), 15.

Anne Lacaton and Jean-Pierre Vassal, Freedom of Use, 23.

Massimo Faiferri, Re-Invent. Reuse and Transformation in Lacaton and Vassal’s Architecture (LISt Lab, 2018), 25.

Anne Lacaton and Jean-Pierre Vassal, Freedom of Use, 25.

Martin Heidegger, ‘Building, Dwelling, Thinking,’ In Martin Heidegger. Basic Writings, edited by D. F. Krell (San Francisco: Harper, 2004), 156. Emphasis added for sake of translation.

Heidegger, Building, Dwelling, Thinking, 164. Emphasis added.

The concept of ‘homelessness’ in Heidegger is more complex that can be dealt with adequately here. For a further discussion of sone of the issues involved, see Pieter Tijmes, ‘Home and Homelessness: Heidegger and Levinas on Dwelling,’ Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion 2, no. 3 (1998): 201-213.

Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 73." "17 Sforzinda is a visionary ideal city named after Francesco Sforza, then Duke of Milan. See Hubertus Günther, ‘Society in Filarete’s “Libro architettonico” between Realism, Ideal, Science Fiction and Utopia,’ Arte Lombarda, Nuova Serie, 155 (2009): 56-80.

Interview with Anne Lacaton,

Icon February (2017), 103.

Interview with Anne Lacaton, L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui 424 (2007), 47.

Ilka and Andreas Ruby, ‘Extra Space, Extra Large: On the Recent Work of Lacaton and Vassal,’ in 2G / Lacaton & Vassal Spain (2007), 8.

Anne Lacaton and Jean- Philippe Vassal, ‘Structural Freedom, a Precondition for the Miracle,’ 2G / Lacaton & Vassal Recent Work, 60 (2011), 175.