Interview with architect Patrick Blanchette
In order to highlight the work of the artisans behind the ESTWEST Project, we met with Patrick Blanchette, an architect who has been with Devimco for a little over two years. Having worked in the profession for nearly a decade, Patrick is a leading stakeholder in his field and has proven his worth in the development of residential, commercial and institutional projects.
Patrick, tell us a bit about your career.
“I started my career almost ten years ago at DMA architects as an architectural designer, and then I transitioned to Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux Architectes, where I learned and grew in my profession. Architect Jean-Pierre LeTourneux was a guide and mentor for me, a true inspiration, even to this day. He has a rich and admirable vision of architecture and a great understanding of the profession.”
What’s your role in the ESTWEST Project?
“Since the very beginning of this project, I have been the artistic director, working actively on the development and marketing strategies of this endeavour. Initially, my team and I worked to identify the target clientele for this project, in order to create a living environment that corresponds to their needs and aspirations. Then, we went into design mode, bringing together all our design and architectural inspiration, creating the project’s story. For a site that is rich in history like Square Children’s, it’s essential to respect the heritage and the culture of it, so it’s a meaningful project in terms of what it can bring, but also in terms of the site’s history.”
Regarding design, there is much talk about “Western” inspiration versus “Eastern” inspiration. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
The name ESTWEST says it all. For us, ESTWEST means a meeting point between the two extremes. East and West, English and French. We liked the idea of a duality joining forces, of the relationship created between two distinct worlds. Concretely, the tower located on the East side will recall the layout and general atmosphere of design inspirations specific to the East, especially in terms of the choice of materials, while the western tower will be more inspired by the architecture of the American West, with its deserts, mirages, and warmth. At this stage, we’re in fact completing the reference universe of the West Tower. It’s always fruitful to develop a project that shows strong contrasts in order to bring out the best of both sides.”
You claim that you’re still in the presentation phase of the project. It’s a long process! How long have you been working on this project?
“For a little more than a year, actually. Any real estate project is a major process. When we think of all the necessary steps and the delays that are sometimes (often!) out of our control, the timetable spans over several years.”
Where do you get your inspiration from?
“Inspiration is everywhere. Of course we travel; we visit international architecture shows and seminars; we read a lot; we look at what’s going on elsewhere… but it’s crazy how much you can find inspiration in everyday life, however trivial it may seem. Everything can be a source of new ideas. Sometimes a mere photograph can inspire us; we see the space, texture or colour. But above all, it’s people who inspire me the most. Understanding their lifestyle, their aspirations and their culture. After all, we build our projects for them!”
What are the biggest architectural trends this year?
“I’ve noticed a comeback for sobriety, balance and strict composition. The last few years have been marked by complex geometries, free or even random or highly rhythmic compositions. My eye enjoys the styles of the 1960s, which was a very strong period for architecture, in Quebec and internationally.”
As part of your work, is there an architect that inspires you or guides your creations?
Well, I should start with Jean-Pierre LeTourneux. I remember how much we enjoyed working together. He has a vast culture and often helped me to improve my conceptual thinking. It was very enriching and stimulating. On the international stage, I take pleasure in the works of Tadao Ando, Renzo Piano, Mies Van Der Rohe, Rafael Moneo, OMA and Zaha Hadid. Each architect looks for an answer to a given problem. Sometimes simple, sometimes complex. I enjoy trying to understand their conceptual thoughts. It’s an inspiring and formative practice to try to understand their processes.”
A very big thank you to Patrick for having granted us this time and for having highlighted these different facets of the trade, which are greatly inspiring!