It struck me today how different pairs can be handled after I saw the FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais project in Dunkerque by Lacaton & Vassal. FRAC-1The task the architects faced was to transform a former boat warehouse into a place to collect and display contemporary art. Rather than trying to fit these functions into the immense volume of the existent structure, the architects decided to copy the volume – the new building was constructed in a very low-cost fashion and houses the usual museum spaces: display rooms, cafe, shop, an observation deck, offices etc. while the concrete hall was kept for special exhibits and events – possibilities in there are sheer endless!

frac_12Another architectural project came to mind, but of a very different kind. They share the pair motif but tackle the issue in profoundly different ways. The Ise Shrine is the most sacred place for believers of Shintoism. At its location in Japan’s Mie prefecture it looks as if they built two identical versions of the very simple structure (compared to important buildings of other religions). In fact, the shrines are being renewed every 20 years. One of them is always in use while the other one is waiting for its destruction and a new shrine in its place. This constant renewal process has been going on for centuries.Ise_Shrine_Naiku_1953-8-26What’s are the similarities and what are the differences in these projects? What is a copy? Do they tell about divergent beliefs in different cultures and different times? Is there something particularly Japanese/Asian or French/European? Maybe even universalities?








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