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Competition: Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture 2019

Montpellier’s Festival of Vivid Architecture has launched an international contest for 10 outdoor installations (Deadline: 3 December)

Open to young architects and landscape architects, the competition seeks innovative and experimental concepts for ten pop-up interventions to transform a series of historic mansion courtyards within the centre of France’s seventh largest city.

The winning schemes will be constructed in time for the 14th edition of the prestigious festival which will be held from 11 to 16 June next year. Submissions will be expected to respond to the festival’s theme of ‘beauty’.

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

According to the brief: ‘For this 14th edition of the Festival des Architectures Vives in Montpellier, the chosen sites are within the historical city. One of its treasures is the presence in the heart of the city of several mansions. Today, Montpellier has more than seventy of them. Lots of these courtyards are not open to visitors.

‘Forgotten because they are inaccessible, or forgotten because they are inappropriate, these courtyards disappear little by little from the common knowledge, even from the collective imagination. They become real forgotten spaces but they nevertheless maintain their own specificity, playing between shadow and light, offering a possibility to glorify these places with few things. Thus contemporary architecture will enjoy revealing and waking up sleepy sites.’

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

Located on the south coast of France overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Montpellier is one of the country’s fastest growing cities and is now home to more than 500,000 people. The historic city centre features numerous grand mansions which are the focus of this year’s Festival of Vivid Architecture.

Launched in 2004, the Festival of Vivid Architecture originally took place in Paris and later relocated to Montpellier. Participants in the latest festival are invited to transform the courtyards of 10 imposing houses mostly dating from the seventeenth century.

Submissions should include team details, a brief CV, expression of interest in the festival, and examples of previous projects. Ten winning teams – to be announced in January – will receive €1,000 each to construct their scheme before the festival opens.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 3 December

Contact details


Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Elodie Nourrigat

The festival organiser discusses her ambitions for the competition

Elodie Nourrigat

Elodie Nourrigat

Elodie Nourrigat

Why are your holding an annual international contest for installations as part of the Festival des Architectures Vives 2019?

In 2004, we were invited as architects to create a public installation for a festival in Paris, France. After that we proposed repeating the festival in different cities, tailored to their specific qualities. For Montpellier, these are the courtyards hidden in the town’s centre.

Usually when there is a call for applications for young architects it is in common locations, and we wanted to give value to the new generation, to give the opportunity to these young architects to create their first installation in an emblematic place.

In 2006, the two festivals took place in parallel. The one in Paris then stopped, while the Festival des Architectures Vives has continued. The festival’s goal is to promote young architects as a tool for valuing a territory (Montpellier). The international dimension is therefore major and the vision of other cultures on our heritage is important.

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

What is your vision for this year’s installations?

We would like to create a reflection about beauty. It is vast in architecture, Vitruvius’s triad defines the conditions of beauty but beauty transcends the only aesthetic questions.

Beauty is positive, dynamic and explores a field of innovation by proposing the introduction of new practices in one already there. It has a capacity to transcend an existing place and build a common culture. The expected beauty will certainly be aesthetic and has to understand the immutable codes of architecture, but it will also be experiential, relational, communicative. It is a question of taking over the challenges of the contemporary city, which has become a real laboratory, and imagining ephemeral installations able to explore this notion.

Quality and innovation are two crucial points for us to select projects, we are also looking on a sustainable point how team choose to reuse or recycle their installation after the festival.

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

Montpellier Festival of Vivid Architecture

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

Our goal is to promote young architects. We are looking for smaller and undiscovered talents from all over the world. Every young architect can participate in the competition, and international architects are not required to collaborate with local firms.

The FAV is a platform for young architects to create their first installation and to promote it. Each year we publish a book, in which you can find all the information about the teams, installations and pictures taken by a professional photographer. The teams then can use this book as a tool to enhance their work.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

A few years ago, we partnered for three years with the festival Concentrico in Logrogno, Spain. One of the FAV’s team did an installation in Concentrico, creating a gateway between festivals.

In 2017/2018 we did a ‘co-conception’ project joining French Architects team with Canadian Artists to create an installation together. In 2017, it was during the festival ‘Passage Insolite’ in Québec city and in 2018 the same team created a pavilion for the FAV.

This year we started a partnership regrouping different festivals around Catalogne and South of France, in a network. It would give the opportunity to one team of each festival to participate in a second festival in this network and so create a second installation.