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Graal is a Paris-based architecture and urban design practice created in 2011 by Carlo Grispello and Nadine Lebeau. Graal considers architecture to be a catalyst for the interaction between public space and the built environment and favors the exploration of an architecture that is constantly attentive to the emergence of new functions in their precise context. Guided by a spirit of creative pragmatism, the agency uses negotiation as an architectural and urban design tool in order to optimize constructive exchange throughout each stage of the project. In pursuit of this quest, Graal dissects problematic encountered on site by interrogating program and revealing intrinsic potentialities in order to offer each project an approach that privileges the logic of a particular urban context rather than seeking to follow a rigid design process. The development of an aesthetic coherent with local specificity and the investigation of social space during the design process allow each project to make a positive social and environmental impact. Graal Architecture is committed to expanding its practice, working at all scales from interior organization up to urban projects. The agency’s projects in France and abroad are developed in close collaboration with a range of multidisciplinary professionals in order to guarantee their intelligence and feasibility.
The Villiers-le-Bel Town Hall extension aims to provide a timeless, neutral and singular image in fitting with its urban context. The project aims to transform an introverted institutional building into an opportunity for dialogue with the public domain and its social context. The new extension becomes an urban device that does not seek to impose an architectural gesture but rather to clarify the existing one. The vertical ceramic slat cladding joins the new extension through its material dialogue with the existing building’s mineral envelope. The complex can be read as an element of negotiation between the accumulated buildings that constitute the current Town Hall. Inserted between two existing buildings, the new extension fits into a very constrained footprint. This residual space is transformed into a hall where the transparency of the façade facilitates the continuity of the public space into the interior of the building while offering citizens access to its administrative functions. On the west side, the volume splits into two gable roofs, recalling the area’s origins as a suburban village that has transformed over the years into an amazing multicultural crossroads.