After rescheduling this interview for a while, I finally found myself sitting in front of a very confident Ben. He is wearing a burgundy shirt, a scarf and a pint in hand. We are at Mike’s Place and I can hear Roger Connah’s laugh melting with some music blurred in the background. Yes!, I couldn’t ask for a better scenery, this is definitely Ben’s world and I’m just visiting.
Benoît Lagacé is an Architecture master student, leader of the team that recently won first place on the CCA Charrette (the panel is displayed up in Azrieli middle earth) and Assistant editor of Building 22 Edition 1o. Here is what he had to say to your questions.
Andrea Chiney: What brought you to Architecture? or Did Architecture come to you ?
Benoit Lagace: Oh, I feel bad I don’t have a cool story. Everyone always have a cool story. When I was younger I had this huge interest for lego and pop-up books, maybe that’s why but I was moving to Europe and I went to visit the Architecture school there, and I thought it was very cool. Architecture is that kinda thing where I can do Architecture which I like but also include literature and philosophy so I really enjoy it.
AC: Give a professional scenario where a scarf is critical to attire.
BL: Just being an Architect, you need a scarf! ( laughs)
AC: Is Architecture a professional scenario?
BL: Well, I think by definition yeah. Yeah. I think what shocked me when I came back to Canada was that the professors and architects in Europe were much younger than here. So I feel like Architecture is a more of a purely professional scenario here in Canada in the sense that it has less youthfulness and is way less diffused into the public sphere.
AC: Do you think there’s room for pornography in the realm of Architecture?
BL: haha, who asked that question? Uh, Pornography in Architecture … i think, i think there’s room for erotica not pornography. More about the study of the beauty of body not sex as consumable good.
AC: About the CCA Charrette, What motivated you to participate? Were you the leader?
BL: I guess I was technically the leader because I was in charge of registering the team, but I would never call myself the leader. It was more of a group effort. I think I would like to give an invitation to everyone at the Architecture building to participate in this kind of competitions, because everyone can do it … its truly very important for your education. It allows you to pause the work that you are doing at studio, re-shape it and re-work it and see what happens. I mean, that’s what we did this year, just had fun with it. We started here at Mike’s place brainstorming ideas until we got a solid one down and then after that we just worked away all weekend. Things like these make you be more critical about studio and be able to push it further, everything we did for the competition was directly related to studio.
AC: And you guys won! Congratulations!
BL: Thank you!, We didn’t know we won actually. We learnt about it a few days after, we kinda forgot about it and then Roger got an e-mail form another university and that’s how we found out.
AC: Do you prefer working as a group or an individual? How was the group experience?
BL: I liked working in a group, everyone worked together pretty good!
AC: What are your thoughts on our program focusing more in the individual rather than group work ?
BL: I think there’s always that thing that when it’s time to work in groups everyone gets really scared but after a while they realize its good. I think my only issue is, I mean my shock was that compared to the other places I’ve been ( and talking to other people that come from other schools like Manitoba for example) students here are less engaged with other students’ projects. From where I came from students are actively asking questions and discussing each others projects, its something i don’t see happening here. I don’t think its the school’s fault, but I think the students need to get more involved.
AC: I think I see that coming up, specially with the newer years.
BL: That’s great! Because we need that. I think there’s no problem about working as an individual but it is very important to know how to accept criticism from your peers.
AC: Talk about your hairstyle
BL: (laughs) I saw that coming! I dunno, um … I don’t put much effort into it hahaha! I mean I have to comb it in the morning but that’s about it! I just try to have fun with it!
AC: Do you ever store things in your scarf pocket? Give examples .
BL: Hahaha, Do you know who’s that from ?I think this is from a third year that went to the first year door and wrote that down. Uh, I have this really cool scarf that has pockets in it so I can put my wallet and my keys in it and I can throw my coat away. So yeah, when I go to the bar I just put my stuff there and I throw my coat away. It’s great! My brother gave it to me for my birthday.
AC: Did you inspire Cedric’s hair or did he inspire yours?
BL: haha, Veneta at Le Spa cuts his and my hair so thats it. She influences both of us.
AC: What’s your favourite movie ?
AC: What’s the color of your underwear today?
BL: Black! Always!
AC: Leather vs. Fixed gear?
BL: Fixed Gear … ( laughs, lots of them) What kind of question is that ?!
AC: What do you like to do in your free time?
BL: Um … I don’t have free time … Actually no, I’m a big Hockey fan so I definitely make some free time for Hockey.
AC: Brussels is a bilingual city, How can you compare it to ottawa?
BL: I didn’t like it when I was there but I regret it now, I think I wasn’t mature enough. I look back and I think it was great. I mean, everyone speaks French but when you’re walking down the street you hear people speaking all kind of languages. Architecture wise as well, Brussels is the European capital so there was always something going on there, conferences, art exhibits, architecture expos, etc.
AC: So you like Brussels better than Ottawa.
BL: Um, it’s different. It’s like comparing girlfriends, even if you don’t like her after there’s always something cool about them, you know.
AC: What inspires you?
BL: Oh, tough question. Ok, without sounding cliche … I’d have to say: streets, the beauty of the ordinary, just everything, 1960-1970 counter culture movements and French philosophers and thinkers (Foucault, barthes, deleuze and more recently bourriaud)
AC: You speak French and English, what third language would you like to learn?
BL: I can speak a little bit of Spanish and Italian, but I would like to learn German I think. Just because you can read all this cool German Philosophers and then, you can party in Berlin.
AC: How do you plan to revolutionize the next issue of Building 22?
BL: Oh …. I don’t know if that’s top secret or not. It’s gonna be good, but I don’t know if its about revolutionizing per say. I think Building 22 has brought a lot of good stuff to the school, the blog itself I think is one of them. For this issue we’ll try to bring more criticality to the table … maybe, maybe … it’s just a thought right now.
AC: What’s the future of Architecture?
BL: I won’t be as bold to say that I know what’s gonna happen, but I’m very interested in Relational Art at the moment and I think that’s an area we should explore in Architecture. If you look at Bourriaud, he describes how Relational Art has emerged in response to increasingly privatized public spaces in our society. Relational Art pieces focus on trying to procure real events or interactions between people since this is no longer possible in our public spaces today. To me this is a fundamentally architectural problem.
AC: In your opinion, why do architects always wear black?
BL: Have you read that book? Why Architects wear black?
AC: No… but I’ve heard about it.
BL: Well I think it’s because it’s the easiest thing and you can do anything with it. I mean, it absolute, it never changes. I think we’re scared of committing to a color.
AC: Why fixed gears?
BL: That’s a great question! I dunno, this relates to the black. Black is an absolute color and I think fixed gear is the absolute form of a bike. I dunno, once you ride it and experience it you realize you are one with the bike, you are in tune with the machine.
AC: I think that’s a wrap! Thanks!
BL: That’s it? ok, thanks!
That’s all for now, Welcome back to school kids!