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2006 01 16
David Ross / Rebecca Duclos of Reading Montreal Interview NOMADE 2
NOMADE_Peel Bassin

RM: How would you describe your office’s approach to its projects?

N: NOMADE is essentially about collaboration, it’s a collaborative - it’s not the name of an individual, it’s about gathering people, brains together and trying to make the best idea, the best project… it’s not a signature thing—each project is pretty different. There seems to be something similar going on in all the projects but they are each pretty different.

There is a chain of thoughts that is the backbone of what we do but everything is site and cultural specific – every aspect of what is brought together from project to project has something recurrent, but its underlying issues of site, culture and specifics of place - all these things constitute our ‘style’. Everything is up for grabs for us on projects….as we go along, as we meet people. Our buildings are always contextual, and integrated with each sector and what’s going on there.

NOMADE_Peel Bassin Plan

We like projects that are a bit ‘out there’. We have come to realize that we have an affinity with larger scale projects and find ourselves dealing with issues of complexity and dynamic attributes in the bigger projects.

From the get-go we have tried to assume an interdisciplinary approach: we don’t differentiate between things like architecture and landscape architecture. We don’t say, ‘OK, this is landscape and this isn’t landscape; we integrate it into a whole—that is at the core of our practice—an integration of diverse sources for our projects. The art work on the Palais des Congrès was an example of this where we worked with everybody – artists included.

We work with existing structures, existing is very important… [In China for example], the existing is there, but not as much as a matter of space or in the city sense, but in the sense of culture and the life of people. You deal with the life of people and architecture’s effect upon them, but not as ‘this building is very old so we must keep it or go around it’ – instead, you deal with the natural elements in the life of people… so that’s where our architecture emerges from.

NOMADE_St Laurent Blvd

When we get a chance to meet one-on-one with clients like, for example, the project we did here for the revitalization of Saint-Laurent boulevard (the Main)”, we had an interview with Daniel Langlois and he chose us because he liked our approach, how we saw things. Then Quartier des Spectacles saw what we did for DL and said “We want NOMADE”, and it was able to happen because we didn’t have to go through the usual bureaucratic channels…

RM: How many and what kind of people work for NOMADE?

N: We have about 15 people on staff – it changes based on the work we’re involved with.

We are a young office; we hire young people who are enthusiastic, who want to learn and try new things. Since no one here is over 50 years old we are creating our own culture of experience - a kind of maturity based on enthusiasm and daring, as opposed to just numbers of years and projects. This is part of the reason we are going outside of Quebec for projects too, because in Quebec many of the big projects available to offices have a criteria based on experience and years of practice. For us, years of experience is irrelevant, because it doesn’t tell you anything about what types of projects you have worked on or what quality was there, what competence or talent. This is also why the projects we get are frequently not through the normative routes like official tendering with committees for public projects…because our office tends to fall outside of the parameters of what it is that they are looking for.

[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 01/16 at 12:03 PM

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