The first two volumes of "Archi et Basile", which propose a playful discovery of architecture and urban planning, appear on the occasion of the National Days of Architecture.

Archibald – Archi for the intimate – is what you might call a curious little cat. As soon as he can, he spends his time in the architecture agency of the floor below, pushing his master Basile, in search of his pet, to cross the doors of this place totally unknown to him. Here is the starting point of a story designed to introduce the two heroes – and by extension the readers – to the world of architecture.

A collection to raise awareness of architecture

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The first two issues ofArchi and Basile on 13 October, on the occasion of the National Days of Architecture. Behind this new collection is the architecture department of the Directorate-General for Heritage and Architecture of the Ministry of Culture, at the origin of the project, and the Heritage Editions of the National Monuments Centre. “ We wanted to make young people aware of architecture in the form of a game book, explains Frédéric Haboury, Deputy Director of Architecture, Construction Quality and Living Environment. Children are not really aware that their environment is designed by architects so the idea is also to show them and, why not, to spark vocations. » The target for this publication is 7-11 years old. « This is the moment when we ask ourselves questions about our environment, our living environment and our future profession. We also found that there were many books on habitat for toddlers but few books on architecture in this age group », continues Frédéric Haboury. 

The objective of this new publication is to shed light on the role of architects in our daily lives and to popularize certain construction techniques. The first issue, Building permits, gives the fundamentals and takes place in an agency that the two heroes will visit. The second, Work in progress!, focuses on building construction. “ It is a very concrete number of discovery of all the trades involved in the construction of a building, with a conductor: the architect. The idea was also to defend his presence on a construction site », completes Frédéric Haboury.

An informative and creative work

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Behind Archi and Basile, the author Sophie Bordet-Petillon and the illustrator Rémi Saillard. The former imagined the story and the two characters before the latter drew them. “ Having a hero of readers' age who was accompanied by an animal was something attractive. I had initially thought of a dog but the cat is finally an animal more inclined to slip between buildings », remembers Sophie Bordet-Petillon.

These two protagonists do not evolve alone in the story since Archi and Basile are accompanied throughout the story by an architect who answers their questions. « I didn’t know anything about architecture so Archi and Basile actually ask the questions that are mine: how do you draw a facade, a window, why do you put a roof on a house... » The author visited an architect’s office to understand the various facets of the profession and also contacted several professionals. The Ministry also critically reviewed the texts by State urban architects. “ They brought a professional look in line with current trends in architecture, such as biosourced materials or sustainable development ” says Haboury.

On the illustration side, another dimension, more technical and explanatory, has been added to the creative side. « Usually, when I draw architectures, they are very fanciful and do not always respect the laws of perspective, says Rémi Saillard. For this job, I had no choice. For some buildings, I made sketches and for others like the cut of a skyscraper, we touch the technical drawing. » The result is 52 pages alternating between history, games and small anecdotes about famous architects or achievements. The reader can give free rein to his imagination since double pages are dedicated to them to draw the city of his dreams. The whole takes the form of a square and cardboard book, reminiscent of architectural notebooks.

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Two more "Archi and Basile" numbers planned

These first two volumes will be available both in bookshops and in the sales outlets of National Monuments. They will soon be followed by two more issues, one on the links between city, suburbs and countryside, scheduled for June 2023, and a fourth on the city of tomorrow.

Archi and Basile the architectural department of the Ministry of Culture, already composed of “Architectural Notebooks”, a series of monographs of XXe century, and the "Architectural notebooks" exploring unknown aspects of architecture in France at XXe century. Finally the management prepares a reference guide on the 1,600 buildings labeled «Outstanding contemporary architecture».

Archi and Basile, Sophie Bordet-Petillon and Rémi Saillard, Éditions du patrimoine, 52 pages, €14.90.

 

A contest to win one of the first two numbers of "Archi and Basile"

On the occasion of the launch of this new book collection, the Maison de l'architecture Île-de-France organizes a comic book workshop with a fifth-grade class around the adventures of Archi and Basile, as part of the “Look up!” National Architecture Days, Friday 14 October at 8.30 am.
In parallel, two competition games are organized including one online. Participants can email their drawings on the theme of the school of their dreams until Thursday, October 20, 6pm, to bookshop.hotel.sully@monuments-nationaux.fr.
All the drawings will be exhibited at the bookshop of the Hotel de Sully, in Paris, at a meeting held on October 22 from 3 pm to 6 pm with the two authors ofArchi and Basile, Sophie Bordet-Petillon and Rémi Saillard. On the program, the discovery of this new collection and a drawing workshop during which the children will also draw the school of their dreams while the parents can follow an original track game. Among the submissions and sketches drawn on the spot on the day of the meeting, three winners will be chosen to win one of the two albums ofArchi and Basile.