EUROPE - Powerhouse Company is led by two partners in two different places. Charles Bessard in Copenhagen, and Nanne de Ru in Rotterdam. They are talking here about their interest in crafting and in finding their place in a post-bubble Europe.
Powerhouse Company is the office of Charles Bessard (1970, France) and Nanne de Ru (1976, The Netherlands), which is located in Copenhagen and Rotterdam. Both de Ru and Bessard studied at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam, after graduating at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and the Ecole Speciale d'Architecture in Paris, respectively. Bessard has worked for several practices, including Bodin and Associate in Paris, Sheppard Robson Architects in London and with Atelier Jean Nouvel on the Denmark Radio Concert hall in Ørestad. De Ru worked at One Architecture in Amsterdam and AMO/OMA in Rotterdam, before he and Bessard started Powerhouse Company in 2005.
Hans Ibelings: So far, you seem to have more awards than buildings, how does that feel?
Charles Bessard: It feels good, of course, to get recognition.
Nanne de Ru: But also makes us slightly anxious. Architecture is very slow, of course, and we'd actually like to build more.
HI: If you look at what you've done so far, it seems that there is a kind of gap between your interest in social issues and the kind of commissions you get from rather affluent private clients.
CB: I think that's true, but lately we've been rediscovering that our work may in fact be mainly about craftsmanship. That is our main driving force. We are not necessarily concerned only with making glamorous things, we’re also not really concerned only with a social agenda, we just really want to optimize the results of any particular commission in both fields.
NdR: Firstly, as an architect, you don't really choose a commission, that's not a complaint, that's just how it is. And secondly, for us an interest in social issues is part of our ambition to test our architectural vision on many different areas and situations.
CB: We don't necessarily want to do only expensive villas or only cheap buildings or only schools or only offices. We prefer to do a variety of assignments that test our ability to craft something optimized within the constraints.