IFLA 2009 SGJA AWARDEE
Bernard Lassus, almost uniquely, has evidenced new paths to landscape architecture. He came late to landscape architecture after devoting the first part of his training and career to the visual arts. His early work included endeavours to understand the integration of decorative art within external space and environment. This led to further studies of how landscape is perceived. By dealing with everyday environments, such as quarries and highways, and developing a process of juxtaposing new elemental detail within traditional landscape settings, he succeeded in evoking invisible values out of the seemingly ordinary. This resulted in what we now recognise as ‘contemporary landscape’.
In what is possibly his most well-known project, the gardens at Rochefort-Sur-Mer, with its history of shipyard industry, the aim was to introduce elements that enhanced the feeling of proximity to the coast and its historic maritime traditions. In his projects addressing the French motorway system (as at the City of Nimes), theatrical Romanesque columns were introduced in order to reflect the rich history of the area.
The essence of Bernard Lassus’ work has been the understanding of and emphasis on a sense of place. This has combined the interweaving layers of use and meaning. His work has most often been executed with quite simple means, but with delicate, thoughtful results. It has demanded an analytical working method in which Bernard Lassus has introduced theoretical thinking into the practical world. His thoughts, theories, processes and methods have been spread widely through his teachings at the school in Versailles and his affiliations at other international schools, as well as his extensive writing and publications.