Décosterd & Rahm, associés

Campement électromagnétique, 1999
decosterd et rahm

Like G.W.F. Hegel, we put architecture on the lowest rung of the world, in matter and gravity, below climatic variations and the passage of time, involved in physical, chemical, biological and electromagnetic relations with the environment and our body. An architecture of immanence, which accepts its material standing, its interdependence with external conditions as a modality. Our works are developing in this physical realm where architecture, at the outset, is nothing other than a Nietzschean struggle between a human desire for energetic growth and structural maintenance, on the one hand, and the external environment which reduces, degrades and breaks up on the other. We accommodate with interest these physical encounters, because in them we discover the fertility of ecological sequences, the variety of forms of causality, symbioses and biological predation, a tremendous expanding field with its own powerful behavioural patterns, capable of creating forms independently of the mind and semantic and visual tools. We are thus reassessing those factors of architecture represented by materials, structure, space and light, depending on their physical actions. We are examining and working on the physical, biological, electroma-gnetic and chemical impacts and exchanges between architecture, the environment and our organism. Matter is no longer restricted to a static and symbolic dimension, but involved in physical and che-mical modifications with the exterior in the form of erosion, putrefaction and fermentation, and it takes on an alimentary value. Space is no longer empty, but defined like a certain amount of chemically constituted air, in which we are physiologically immersed, by respiration and perspiration as much as materials by oxidization. Likewise, light takes on an energetic dimension, through the thermal capacity of infrared rays, through chlorophyll photosynthesis, through the regulation of biological and hormonal rhythms. Our projects work like systems, identifying components, programming exchanges, and making transformations possible. They proceed by way of emissions of information and energy expenditure, they recover and recycle, chemically altering the environment, and electrically stimulating the human being. They are living entries into the physical world, a desire to understand the construction of forms and climates in accordance with the quantifiable reality of the concrete world. Our architecture is accepted as a living environment that goes beyond its sole status of aesthetic figure and political mediation. Our intent is to understand and work with real physiological mechanisms, very akin to present-day scientific and medical knowledge. These metabolic and ecological mechanisms might appear like a sort of fourth dimension of architecture, invisible and energetic, an architecture of particles making it possible to act in a tangible way in the world and produce real physical environments, open to life and to future developments.

Décosterd & Rahm, associés



Melatonin Room

decosterd et rahm
decosterd et rahm

Melatonin Room is a physiological architecture which acts on the space itself by transforming its electro-magnetic make-up. This room is defined as a space of hormonal stimulation. Two climates are produced, turn by turn. The first is defined by the emission of an electroma-gnetic radiation at 509 nm, at an intensity of 2000 lux, which eliminates the production of melatonin by the pineal gland. When secreted, this hormone provides information associated with tiredness and sleep. The space becomes a physically motiva-ting place, which is also chemically stimulating. The second climate is a dissemination of ultraviolet rays which, on the contrary, stimulate the production of melatonin. Melatonin Room is a space without representation, which reduces to a maximum the medium between the emitter and the receptor, and acts on the chemical mechanisms of things between each other. It works on the new forms of communication created by the biotechnologies and by genetics, together with the analogical, the poetic, the aesthetic and the rhetorical.


Résidences nomades pour artistes sur les territoires du Conservatoire du LittoralLanguedoc-Roussillon, France,
Avec Gilles Clément et Michel Aubry, 1998

decosterd et rahm
decosterd et rahm

Between the leather coat we wear and the piece of meat we eat, the habitat is made of cow-hides, removed by knive, duly cleaned of flesh, immediately salted and folded, until they are laid over a self-tensioning kind of structure. The hairy side is innermost, forming an insulating climatic thickness between the grain of the leather and the flax of the interior finish. The flesh is outermost. The hides are cons-tantly in a precarious state of equilibrium between what is liable to become putrid and what is not. Salt, against which people have fought on these seashores to introduce farming, now becomes an ally in the maintenance of the inhabitable space in the form of temporary tanning. Revealed here, in an alimentary way, is the ceaseless energy exchange between man and his environment through architecture as parasitism and symbiosis. The habitat or dwelling is placed in enganes, which are fields of Salicornia, like a link in the carbon cycle, accommodating the salty winds by frequently requiring an additional input of salt. As such, it remains a possible nutritive factor for wildlife and micro-organisms, which pounce on it as soon as the inhabitant goes away.


Design de l'Arteplage de Neuchâtel, Suisse,
avec Michel Desvignes et Yann Kersalé, 1998/1999

decosterd et rahm
decosterd et rahm
Décosterd & Rahm see the tension between Nature and Artifice as the gauge of the amount of energy dispensed to modify prior physical, chemical and biological conditions. Their architecture is set at this initial level of understanding of the world, ahead of cultural and symbolic forms. The Arteplage is organized around a luminous progression from the visible to the invisible. With a white light they impoverish the light spectrum by gradually getting rid of the shortest wavelengths as far as a monochromatic purple light. They proceed into the invisible, as far as UV-Cs, and join up with infrared rays. In the invisible, an inner physiological relationship is set up between body and space, a me-dical relationship where vitamin D, and enzyme and ferment stimulations are formed, with a dilatation of the blood vessels giving rise to a mobilization of antigens. Ultraviolet germicidal lights disinfect and purify the air. The space that was thought to be empty is presented as an invisible but physical environment, at once curative and harmful.


Jardins physiologiques La Neuveville, Suisse,
concours avec Jérôme Jacqmin 2000

decosterd et rahm

 The gardens of Jean-Gilles Décosterd & Philippe Rahm deal with the senses, but with a knowledge of the chemical and medicinal mechanisms between the orga-nism and the active substances of plants. They see the garden as a place where the body is plunged into the body of nature, to a point where the metabolism is altered, and the chemistry of the organism is changed, giving rise to physiological interactions between plant and body, from the mouth to the stomach, from the skin to the blood, and from the nose to the brain. First garden: epidermis versus limbo, an itinerary among the softness of willow seeds to the Berce du Caucase involves on-going phototoxic reactions. Second garden : from scents of roses that you inhale to Ambrosia and the risks of allergy it entails. Third garden : eat, pleasurably at first, the sugar of strawberries, then lose the flavour to belladonna, which causes tachycardia and urine retention. Fourth and last itinerary, which is almost psychic, between soothing plants such as verbena and giant hemlock, which causes cessation of breathing and asphyxia.

decosterd et rahm
decosterd et rahm


Salle de sport
Neuchâtel, Suisse, 1998

decosterd et rahm
decosterd et rahm

Architecture is presented as a chemical and biological reformulation of the territory, made up of trans- and perspiration and photosynthesis, combustion and respiration, in which man has a physiological place. Heat is produced by a convective solar heating system using excavated earth for its capacity of thermal accumulation and inertia. This heat is then driven into the hall by the renewal of controlled air. The heat and the oxygen are absorbed by the players, who, in return, supply carbon dioxide as well as steam lost by the body during the transformation into kinetic energy of the chemical energy of the simple subs-tances assimilated during digestion. The air thus polluted shifts towards the side windows where it condenses. The plants between the glass panes absorb the carbon dioxide of the air as well as the condensation of the perspiration of the players and their mineral salts. This chlorophyll photosynthesis permits the transformation of solar energy into nutrient substances as well as the production of oxygen necessary to burn up the foodstuffs which the players need to release energy.

decosterd et rahm


Philippe Rahm (1967)

Jean-Gilles Décosterd (1963)

1993 - Diplômés de l'Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
1993 — Création de Décosterd & Rahm, associés (Lausanne)

Principaux projets et réalisations

2000 — "Un centre de vaccination au Roundup", Lausanne jardins 2000 (réalisation été 2000) ; "Jardins physiologiques" avec Jérôme Jacqmin, Château de La Neuveville (2ème prix) ; "Melatonin room" installation
1999 — "Le pouvoir des fleurs", avec Alternet Fabric, Lausanne Jardins 2000 (concours-achat) ; "Dynamogénie" Bâtiment de l'EPSIC, Lausanne (lauréat 1er tour) ; Expo.01, Arteplage de Neuchâtel, avec Michel Desvignes, Yann Kersalé (projet sélectionné) ; "Campement électromagnétique", installation, exposition "Plein air", galerie Chez Valentin, Paris
1998 — Résidences nomades sur les territoires du Conservatoire du Littoral, Sérignan avec Gilles Clément et Michel Aubry (projet) ; "Une monnaie érodable" festival Belluard Bollwerk International, Fribourg (réalisé) ; "Chaleur" intervention pour le musée d'archéologie de Neuchâtel (sélectionné) ; "Salle de Sport" Neuchâtel (projet)
1997 — "Jardin sauvage au Rôtillon" Lausanne Jardins 97 (réalisé) ; "Des Champs cuits" réaménagement du centre de Saint-Sulpice (lauréat) ; "Le cadastre des fissures" Lausanne (prix spécial)
1996 — "Bar-VIP" Genèva-Arena (réalisé) ; "Maison à Montreux" transformation (réalisé); "Magasin City-Disc" Lausanne (réalisé) ; "Le béton géologique" avec Jean-Claude Deschamps, Uni-Dufour, Genève (concours-achat) ; aménagement d'une zone piétonne, Bienne (projet)
1995 — "Le très-bas" Centre d'enseignement secondaire, Morges avec Keller++Weber (mentionné) ; "Nescafé Bar", Geneva-Arena (réalisé) ; "Le contrat naturel" Place du Château-Lausanne pour Mondada SA (mentionné) ; Concept du paysage et du végétal dans le coteau de Cour-Lausanne avec W. W. Nossek (projet)
1994 — "L'enfant Maudit" Un garage préfabriqué, est-ce de l'architecture ? Concours "BTR / Prebéton" (lauréat)
1993 — "Quelques lieux communs" Intervention artistique, Bellerives-Lausanne (1er achat).

Publications de Philippe Rahm et Jean-Gilles Décosterd

1999 — "The Chemicals Lovers" Parpaings, Paris ; "Elisabeth Creveseur" catalogue, Vidéos 1993-1999, MAC, Marseille ; "Une architecture de l'immanence" Inter n°72, Montréal
1998 — "Les natures en ville" Anthos n°1, revue de paysagisme, Molondin ; "Soigner et construire, tel est le bâtir" Quaderns n°220 ; "Sous les pavés, l'herbe" l'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui n°317 ; "Seconde genèse" catalogue de l'exposition "Mutations @morphes, R.DSV & Sie.P" FRAC Centre, Orléans
1997 — "Les arbres devraient-ils avoir un statut juridique ?" Quaderns n°217, Barcelone ; "La friche et la ville" l'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui (sept.) ; "Gilles Clément, Traité succinct de l'art involontaire" Art Press n°226
1996 — "Sur le sol du monde sensible" Art Press n°213 ; "Roche DSV & Sie au Magasin, Grenoble" l'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui (juin)

Bibliographie sélective

2000 — "Soleil Vert" Parpaings n°12, Paris ; "Jardins 2000" IAS n°05
1998 — "Lausanne Jardins, une envie de ville heureuse" Edit. du Péribole, Ecole Nationale Supérieure du Paysage de Versailles ; Inter n°69, Montréal
1997 — Architecture Suisse n°127, Lausanne ; Quaderns n°214 et 217, Barcelone ; Archimade n°55, Lausanne