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Living in the window

My project for Campus MaNa considers a new approach to building elements in light of the challenges posed by urban society. Two of these issues will be the main drivers of a reflection that is intended to be out of step with current design.

– The question of building elements in the context of the climate crisis and the requirements of frugality in terms of energy and resource consumption. In this reflection, each element cannot be considered in isolation, but must be placed in a new technical ecosystem.

– The view of the building element as essential to the relationship between the inhabitant and his environment. This relationship was reduced to nothing by functional architecture and industrial production. It is a question of finding a resonance between the building and the everyday experience. The pleasure of understanding, the desire for use, the freedom of appropriation, will be sensitive values that will be systematically compared with the ecological performance of the project.

The project will be carried out in a transversal practice that does not dissociate gesture from thought.

The theme of the workshop will be “living in the window”.


The window, and more generally the bay, is an essential element of the architecture.

“An opening of any function, arranged in a built part, and its framing” (Vocabulaire de l’Architecture, Imprimerie Nationale, 1972), the window has always been a fundamental constant of the aesthetics and the use of buildings. A reflection on the window and its cloaking devices cannot therefore go without a perspective in the history of architecture and especially the question of styles.

As such, it is a subject of debate. Let us mention only the one between Auguste Perret and Le Corbusier between vertical window and ribbon window.

– With regard to the aesthetic approach, it must also be included in the technical adventure: the opening is a challenge for the constructive device. To remove material is to remove the resistance of a section of wall. From the first constructions to modernity, passing through the Romanesque arch, the classical lintel, to reinforced concrete, the window is a subject of permanent innovation and reinvention.

At the start of the 1950s, the window even seemed to dissolve into a radical transformation with the development of the curtain wall, a transparent façade with no openings anymore.

– Is a window that no longer opens still a window? The relationship with ventilation highlights the link between the window and the overall constructive devices of a building. All the construction elements – windows, floors, ceilings, stairs, partitions – are part of a technical ecosystem from which they cannot be detached. The appearance of mechanical air conditioning in 1901 profoundly questioned the relationship of interior spaces with their environment. Now we have to “open the window” again.

– From cinema to painting, via literature and comics, the window has always been associated with a rich and abundant imagination. The window is the elsewhere, the dream, the sky, the fantastic, the unknown. It is what makes it possible to see, to hide and to be seen. In systems of oppression and confinement, it frustrates and constrains but also allows one to escape, to get away. The window is the place of all possibilities, it is synonymous with freedom. By focusing on its imagination and its representations, the window can thus be perceived as the catalyst for a reflection on the quality and habitability of our contemporary architecture.

– From an environmental angle, it is urgent to reconsider the window today. The climate crisis has encountered a brake on the use of air conditioning, the use of materials such as PVC and aluminum responsible for a poor CO2 balance, the size of the windows glazing. To this must be added the necessary shift from massive and globalized prefabrication to more local production that respects contextual know-how.

The window is at the intersection of multiple sustainable development issues.

– Finally, the window is much more than a bay that lets in air and light. It is a space in itself, a threshold between exterior and interior, between intimate and public. It can integrate technical elements – heating, lighting -, storage, a seat, a deep doorway to be able to stand there. Complemented by shutters, net curtains, curtains, the window is an inhabited decor that signals the spirit of an era, a culture and a society. In urban housing with minimal surfaces, the window must play a new role in the daily life of the inhabitants, provided that it operates a shift from the ordinary control. »

Program Outline


Architect / Designer tutors: Jacques Ferrier

Assistant architect and theorist: Clémentin Rachet

Content and forms of teaching

Ma.Na’s innovative teaching is based on the contributions of renowned designers/architects, craftsmen specialized in their discipline and speakers (theoreticians, artists, scientists…) who shed light on, and put into perspective, the creative journey of the training. This triptych, enriched with many other experiences on campus, guarantees participants a complete training combining conceptual contributions and technical learning.

Ma.Na's team accompanies the participants through a range of complementary activities:

A time of reflection and research to document the subject

Hours of work in the workshops as well as on the field

Various highlights: conferences, visits, masterclasses

Individual and collective scenarios

Individual and collective conversations and advices from tutors and speakers.

Typical day and week schedule

General learning objectives

The program is designed to support the participant on four levels : creation, technical learning, defining a professional project and collective work.

The mastery of knowledge and techniques related to window making.

The ability to develop and present your work, your practice, your ideas.

The ability to research a subject.

The ability to work collectively.

Training tools / materials

Access to references, preparation documents, recommended readings, filmography, etc. before the program starts.

Material provided

Technical learning via your own selection of hand, stationary and power tools. Includes : an introduction to the working of these tools, explanations for good maintenance and training on how to use them.

Set-up of your own « technical passeport » combining evaluations and upgrades of tools & assembling techniques, particularly through fundamental exercises.

Follow-up on your work at MaNa, daily meetings, intermediate rendering and collective presentation in the end of the training.

Individual meeting on your current practice, based on the portfolio, allowing to reinforce, correct or orientate different questions.

The work will be a collective work.

Assessment methods

Documented and well-argued final project

The acquisition of knowledge and experience during training, the progress of work and the final rendering are taken into account training validated by a MaNa certificate.

Admission criteria / prerequisites

Self-taught or graduate of the discipline - the experience is assessed during the admission process.

Step 1: Sending a CV and portfolio
Step 2: Validation of the application by the admission board, which ensures that the profile and the requirements of the training match.

Program details

Material(s): Wood, metal, other
Domain: Architecture
Duration: 2 weeks
Language: French & English

Price: 3900 € inc VAT

This price includes the cost of training, accommodation and full board, materials and personal protective equipment.

Dates : Upcoming Sessions
From 18/09/2023 to 29/09/2023

Typical day and week schedule​

Program Outline

Bientôt disponible

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