Hardwired for the same shared passion for design, Alice Vaillant, Guillaume Grenu and Nicolas Le Meur have built OLGGA’s core philosophy around an architecture that is pure, direct and responsible. Based in Paris, the studio was created in 2006, its founders fresh out of architecture school. Ever since the creation of a satellite office in Lille in 2008, the studio has changed its collective dynamic that makes collective risk-taking a generator of good design. Today, three people--as individual they are parts of a whole--make up OLGGA. But first, what we all want to know: why «OLGGA»? Don’t rack your brain figuring out the funky acronym, it is quite simply a girl’s name, as dynamic and playful as their design ethos.
For OLGGA, building is first and foremost the occasion for confronting the building environment, interacting with a particular site, getting cozy with existing topography. Their projects provide strong architectural statements, composed of assumed, dissimulated volume. The trio refuses to produce or reproduce with neutral architecture, as was the case with the Stadium du Littoral in Grande Synthe, their first completed public sector project . No dominant predictable material palette and no systematic structure: OLGGA considers everything and discounts nothing. It is a matter of building with instinct and with the senses; that is how OLGGA addresses the practice of architecture, in a flurry of experienced «moments». Each project is a new opportunity to for the studio test itself, to more openly engage the field of possibilities and be as right-on as possible.
For the three architects, construction is part of the foundation of design, no matter the scale. There is no small architecture. Be it a freestanding wood sculpture or carefully programmed housing project, the commitment and dedication are the same. And because OLGGA reinvents itself with each project, there is no relevance in crafting a systematic design language. That said, blurring the distinction between interior and exterior, articulating a preference for simple assumed lines, and coordinating materiality could be considered as consistent priorities.
They came into the spotlight with one of their very first projects, the Evolutiv’ House, which was later exhibited at the European Wood Expo in Grenoble in 2008. Modular and entirely made of wood, the project was well-received. In 2009 the Flake House was an official selection in the Estuary Biennale of Contemporary Art in 2009. At the same time, they participated in a number of invited competitions, quickly gaining experience in schematic conception. The work of this young office recognized by the French Ministry of Culture: OLGGA was laureate of the prestigious Young Architects Award (Albums des Jeunes Architectes et Paysagistes). In 2011, they were shortlisted in Paris for the Buzenval recreational facility and the Chaumont International Graphic Design Center (with Bruce Mau Design), two projects with second place finishes that attracted a lot attention. Since its inception, the design studio has grown to include eight people.
This tried and tested synergy is a generator of—and an answer to —their pragmatic architecture. Being a trio implies a certain organization to which they distribute roles according to the strong suits of each one: administrative management and programmatic analysis for Alice, project conception and branding of the design studio for Guillaume, technical analysis and construction administration for Nicolas. However, being pigeonholed to a particular skillset is pretty much out of the question, as the projects are the fruit of collective discussions where everyone bring something to the table.
OLGGA approaches architecture as an open discipline, constantly seeking the dialog of diverse counterparts to widen the scope of possibilities. Decidedly optimistic, OLGGA pursues an experimental approach, borne of unwavering motivation to realize one of their primary objectives:
PRINCIPAL ARCHITECTS : Alice VAILLANT, Guillaume GRENU, Nicolas Le MEUR
EMPLOYEES since 2006 : Aymeric ANTOINE, Stéphane CARNUCCINI, Vincent CAUQUIL, Caroline De La GIRODAY, Olivier GUYOT, Pauline HUSSON, Alexandre LARCHER, Vincent LAUREAU, Olivier LAURENT, Valentine MICHELIER, Elise RENARD, Carmela VICCARO, Rosaria VICCARO