10 Q&A with Archilovers: LAN Architecture

by Cecilia Di Marzo
8 Love 3906 Visits

LAN Architecture was created by Benoît Jallon and Umberto Napolitano in 2002, with the idea of exploring architecture as an area of activity at the intersection of several disciplines. This attitude has developed into a methodology enabling LAN to explore new territories and forge a vision encompassing social, urban, functional and formal questions.

LAN’s projects seek to find elegant, contemporary answers to creative and pragmatic concerns.


LAN has received several awards: the Nouveaux Albums de la Jeune Architecture (NAJA) prize awarded by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication (2004); the International Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum and the European Urban Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies, the Archi-Bau Award, the Special Prize at the 12th World Triennale of Architecture, Sofia (2009); the AR Mipim Future Projects Award and the Europe 40 Under 40 Award (2010).


Here, we ask Umberto Napolitano to give us an inside look at his life.


1. When you were a child, what did you dream you'd become? When did you realize you’d become an architect?

I realized very quickly that I wanted to do something related to art, I explored everything: music, theater, painting, digital art, etc...
When I had to choose the school, I wanted to do the fine arts and my father told me: "If you are an artist you will be anyway, no need to go to school for that...Learn something else and you'll see."
That's how I became an architect and I thank him again today.


2. What are your passions besides architecture?

My biggest passion is to learn...Whatever I learn and in any form. That's how I live at 44 years old, asking myself day by day what I had learned again.


3. What’s the projects among yours that better represents you?

All the projects I have done represent me.

We had the chance to make very few compromises...which makes us proud of all the works we have built.

If I have to quote one, I would put the last in date...It is a prison which is at the same time an urban resolution, an ethical posture and a typological exploration.

I think it's a very successful project.

Minimum-Security Prison in Nanterre

Minimum-Security Prison in Nanterre

Minimum-Security Prison in Nanterre



4. Name a person from today or the recent past you would invite for dinner and why.

Surely Diego Maradona, I grew up when he was in Naples and he is a character as mythical as he is romantic. To see him play football taught me that we are all different and that there are people who have inherited the divine faculties. This applies to everything in life.

5. If you were given a chance to be reborn again, what would you want to be?

I would like to relive the same life just by choosing what I have discarded in this life.


6. What does your house look like?

I have different places that I call home and they are all like: a space that is not drawn or projected whose singularity is often the fruit of chance and time...In these places I cumulate some fetish objects.


7. What’s the trip or city you will never forget and what is your dream destination?

For a thousand reasons I traveled a lot. Last year for example the Air France application told me that I spent 28 full days in the sky (just with them)....28 days is 672 hours .... a madness. Because of this, my travels and my favored destinations have become those where I do not move much, which I know very well: the Greek islands and Naples.


8. Is there a particular place in your city you live that inspires you or where you love spending your time?

I think it's a cafe overlooking the Place du Centre Pompidou. From the terrace I like to look at people, to observe them...This square is really a unique place in Paris. I do this regularly since I moved to Paris (1997)


9. List your favorite material, shape and color.

I am lucky to love all materials, I do not have a favorite, but I believe that each is intended to be used in a specific situation.

The last experience in the genre I did was with the Okumé wood. In the project of our own office it became a leitmotiv that we declined from the ceiling, furniture, through the objects and doors...

Popincourt, Paris 

List your favorite book, movie, song.

Architecture of the city
– Aldo Rossi

Duck, You Sucker! – Sergio Leone

I Wanna Be Your Dog – the Stooges



    Popincourt 4


    Paris / France / 2019