Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

I am very pleased that we are gathered here tonight, rue de Valois, to celebrate together this tenth anniversary of the relaunch of the Albums des jeunes architectes, gathered with young landscapers since 2005 by the Ministry of Culture and Communication.

The greatest success of the Albums des jeunes architectes et des paysagistes is to have been able to impose its name, its rhythm, in short its very particular brand, on all the actors of the world of architecture. The popularity of AJAP is confirmed session after session; your presence this evening is just another proof.

The albums of young architects and landscapers are a powerful incentive for creation. Their role as a spur for innovation in building techniques as well as in urban and landscaping solutions is now well established. The previous session saw 300 teams mobilize and compete in inventiveness for the occasion. If the figures are not all, it nevertheless reveals the enthusiasm that it triggers among young professionals, very attentive to this meeting. The latter is indeed a launch pad of first choice to obtain a privileged space of expression within a wider professional sphere.

«Not all good candidates have been selected, but only good candidates have been selected»: I borrow this word from Christian Hauvette, Grand Prix national de l'architecture, president of the jury for the session 2009-2010 and an architect of great talent whose disappearance made French architecture lose one of its most brilliant representatives, and to whom I want to pay sincere tribute today.

Christian Hauvette was able to grasp here the complexity of the challenge that the AJAP jury must meet in each session. The award-winning young architects and landscape designers have all been confronted to varying degrees with face-to-face experience with space, sketching, structuring, crossing, liberating, sometimes working with prestigious agencies. It is on their ability to become familiar with the practices, rhythms and architectural biases, to digest them too, to reinvest them, to criticize them if necessary, that the young professionals of Albums were selected.

In ten years, since the relaunch of the Albums in 2001, what can we see?

First, a profound diversification of the fields of creation, in the direction of design, interior design, scenography… It is in the small scale, which is also a school of humility, that experiences are often confirmed.

For several sessions, we can also see that interdisciplinarity is increasingly practiced and assumed by candidates. It is in many cases constitutive of their creative identity; it multiplies their capacities of intervention, in a field where architecture, urban planning and landscape begin a stimulating dialogue with the plastic or digital arts, philosophy, music and poetry. I am delighted that these new generations have made their own this open-mindedness, which contributes to making architecture a universal writing, without borders or prejudices. French architecture needs this freshness to continue to advance.

This evening, I would also like to commend the tremendous work that has been done by all the experts, all those, architects, teachers, institutional representatives of architecture and landscape, those involved in dissemination and criticism, Unfortunately, I can’t give all the names, which have shown an unwavering involvement in the selection work of the files that have flowed into the Ministry of Culture and Communication.

The success of each session is also due to the professional and sharp looks of the members of successive juries, who have devoted their time, energy and critical talent to serve the cause of architecture, accompanying the permanent renewal of its horizons. I would especially like to pay tribute to the commitment of their presidents since 2001: Michel Delebarre, Ian Ritchie, Edith Girard and Michel Desvigne, Francis Soler and Olivier Philippe, and finally Pascal Cribier and the late Christian Hauvette for the last session of 2009-2010.

Behind the success of the Albums des jeunes architectes et des paysagistes, there is also the Cercle de parrainage, which accompanies the winners in their sometimes arduous quest for the first major commission. This is an indispensable lever, provided since December 2002 by my department, for a competition that is primarily valid for its role as a support mechanism. In this regard, I would like to express my gratitude to all elected officials, project owners and organizations that embody this mobilization force and the solidarity of the world of architecture. They are the ones who make these professional adventures possible.

We often talk about the “boost” provided by AJAP to young architects and landscapers: they are more than that. They also express the confidence that the Ministry of Culture and Communication has in young creation and the professions of architecture and landscape as a whole. They illustrate a belief that I have held since I came to the Ministry: architects and landscapers have in their hands the keys to a «humanism with an urban face». The growing diversity and interdisciplinarity I mentioned about the winners of recent years is, I think, a very strong sign of that: they have all the cards in hand to address the complexity of an architectural 21st century where economic and social contexts intersect more than ever with environmental and citizen requirements, calling for pragmatic solutions. All the energies and all the skills are required so that they can imagine quality urban and landscape fabrics, serving the attractiveness of our territories and our living environments. This is the whole subject of the reflection that will animate the Conversations on Heritage and Architecture, on November 9 and 10 under the guidance of the architect Nicolas Michelin, one of the first promoters of «discreet and sustainable» architecture.

I am pleased that all the AJAP winners have expressed the same qualitative concerns, which are reflected in each of their projects. I can only welcome the evolution of the curricula of the national architecture colleges, which integrate these issues in their workshops. In 10 years, they too have been able to adapt and make their training courses of excellence a school of responsibility, civic awareness and innovation. This is the whole purpose of the policy of support for architectural creation that my ministry pursues, whose vocation is to maintain this level of responsibility, fidelity and continuity in its commitments. I am working tirelessly to ensure that the professionals you are are able to practise their professions and express their talents in the best conditions, in the service of these ambitions that we all share.

For three decades, and since the relaunch of AJAP ten years ago, the winners of this support and promotion mechanism that are the Albums have very often become names of reference in the world of architecture, by their strength of conviction, their biases, their ethics as well. I’m sure the same will be true for the more recent winners and those of next March, who will have to assert themselves in a difficult professional world, and will be able to benefit from the springboard that the travelling exhibition designed for them by the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine will offer in 2012, starting in October. The Albums, which distinguish French and foreign architects and landscape designers, have also become a source of international influence for the benefit of the winners.

The AJAP also help us to trace, as it were, the already long history of the trends of tomorrow - that of an architecture that was rebuilt after the war on new needs and hopes.

This is the case with the history of large urban complexes, monumental signs of the Reconstruction and of the social aspirations which they were the bearers of. Their heritage, even in the difficulties that architects may have had in assuming and overcoming it, has founded contemporary French architecture. To understand this decisive period of Reconstruction and the Thirty Glorious is to understand one of the foundations of our contemporary society. These are all reasons why I am very proud to welcome the launch of the collective work Les grands ensembles. An architecture of the 20th century. I would like to thank the authors of this book, and in particular the photographer Alex MacLean, who made a special order for us by flying over the territory of Île-de-France by helicopter. At a time when the State and local authorities are committed to defining the contours of the Greater Paris of tomorrow, in particular within the International Workshop of Greater Paris, whose work I fully support, I think it is indeed essential to have an ambitious reference tool on what has been one of the greatest economic, urban and architectural adventures of our country, and which still determines the field of possibilities of our society today.

Whether they are Aillaud, Zehrfuss, Dubuisson, Beaudoin, Bossard or Pouillon, among many other names, our greatest architects have indeed faced the issue of mass housing. They did so in the urgency of construction, driven by the desire to renew the architectural and urban thought of their time. By their successes, by their failures too, the great ensembles have shaped our urban contexts; they are part of the narrative of our cities. To recall their heritage interest is to contribute to better highlight this near past and its paradoxes, in order to fully take into account what their heritage implies - for the benefit of elected officials and users, but also architects, planners and landscape designers of tomorrow.

Finally, I would also like to greet very warmly the National Grand Prix of Architecture, whose Committee met this morning at the Ministry, and to which I had asked to focus their reflections on Greater Paris and the heritage of the 20th century. I would also like to pay special tribute on this occasion to Jean-Louis Veret, who left us a few weeks ago and who had nurtured his intelligence and ability to listen in previous sessions.

The work of recognition undertaken for ten years through the label «Heritage of the twentieth century» continues. I thought it important to take stock of this first decade: I therefore launched a first study to evaluate the impact of this label on elected officials and the public. Tomorrow, at the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, there will be a symposium dedicated specifically to the heritage of the twentieth century, which will make it possible to present and discuss the experiences conducted in the region over the past 10 years.

All these actions serve the same purpose: to renew our view of an architectural heritage on which we lack hindsight. This is the difficulty of the near past: the one with which we often want to break away, to stand out, the one that remains decisive in the invention and the reinvention of our daily life. Taking the time to look at our heritage is precisely giving ourselves the means to go back to ourselves, distance and reflection, in order to better measure the footprints of the past, and to better anticipate the continuities and ruptures that will make our territories of tomorrow.

Thank you.