We were invited to exhibit in the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale as part of the Close Encounter exhibition which presented a number of relatively unknown yet significant works of architecture. We were asked to make an exhibition about the Maison du Peuple in Clichy-la-Garenne, Paris which was a highly collaborative work designed by Lods & Beaudoin architects, Bodianski engineer and fabricated by the workshop of Jean Prouvé. This building is an exercise in programmatic, material and operational synthesis, providing plural and adaptable spaces for a working class constituency. The complex requirements of market, auditorium and cinema occupy the same set of spaces sequentially, through the deployment of mobile screens, a stacking floor, collapsible balustrades, a sliding roof and other moving elements. The project is made through assembly; of elements made in thin metal sheet strengthened by a combination of craft and quasi-industrial methods, as well as of ideas and groups of invested individuals (architects, fabricators, engineers, clients and users).
In similar ways, our exhibit demonstrates these adaptable and spatially varied characteristics. Through our research we uncovered a huge number of original drawings and construction photographs that had never been exhibited or published. Our ambition therefore was to bring to light as much of this wonderful resource as possible so creating surface area was fundamental to the design which evolved into a book-like cabinet of curiosities reminiscent of Soane's picture room. The space and mobile surfaces, layered with original drawings and photographs of the Maison du Peuple, may be reconfigured at will by visitors, who make walls out of doors and seats of timber bracing as they read the information. As the space is remade, new combinations of information are formed, retelling the story in an ever-changing context. The exhibition object, was crafted in collaboration with the fabricator Massimo Luchetti and his team in Macerata. Designed in collaboration with Kevin Donovan.