Paris, 21 January 2014,

Mr Ambassador of Japan,

Mr Yoichi SUZUKI,

Madam Vice-President of the Nord-Pas de Calais Regional Council,

Senator, dear Catherine GENISSON,

Ladies and gentlemen elected,

Dear Guillaume Prot and dear Christophe CZAJKA

Mr President of the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine, dear Guy Amsellem

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to present these prestigious Moniteur awards, which allow us to fully appreciate the vitality of architectural creation in France and to better value this architectural quality so essential to the responses that our society must provide the great challenges of our century.

As we prepare to distinguish talent and creativity from those who embody today’s architecture, these words that Paul Valéry puts in Socrates' mouth come to mind: «Architecture alone demands and brings to the highest point the great characters of a complete work.» It is hard to imagine a more beautiful eulogy than to paint Socrates as an «architect whom circumstances have not finished training», trusting his regrets that he was unable to devote himself to the one who is «the most complete of the arts».

Like the Socrates of Valéry, I am convinced of the essential place of architects in our society, at the crossroads of all issues of our contemporary world.

Like him, I know that Architecture is a culture of quality.

Quality of an architectural creation, where «the greatest freedom is born from the greatest rigor», to use the words of Paul Valéry. Quality of the living environment for all citizens, quality of what is truly an art and a science of everyday life. Quality of an intervention on our environment that is responsible, environmentally conscious, economically viable and socially just, for the sustainable development of our territories. Quality of an architectural gesture that provides coherent and innovative responses to the major challenges of the 21stth century: access to housing for all, energy and ecological transition, living together.

As soon as I took office, and I was able to express it very quickly, in Venice, during the 13thth International architecture biennial when I included architecture among the major axes of my action, I committed myself to promote and promote this architectural quality.

At the beginning of 2014, I would like to present to you our major projects to continue the dynamic driven in 2013, for an architecture that I want closer to the people and territories, for an architectural quality at the service of the public interest. And so, dear Guillaume Prot, I will respond to the expectations of a profession whose concerns I share.

We need the expertise and skills of architects in areas that go beyond just building. It is important, and it is my ambition, that this expertise and expertise be better known and recognized so that they can be used and sought out more widely throughout the country.

I will therefore take all necessary measures to support the creation and architectural quality in our country:

- I did it by doing the training of our architects a priority of my department.

I focused on this last year by undertaking a wide-ranging consultation process that has resulted in an ambitious roadmap to better define the place of our architecture schools in the higher education landscape.

I will continue this effort in 2014 by focusing on the success of students with a common entrance competition to schools, on a better registration of our schools in their territories, on the opening of our schools internationally and on the consolidation of research in architecture. I will also ensure that future architects are better aware of the issues of accessibility and architectural well-being so that architectural quality takes into account the expectations and needs of all our fellow citizens. I will also ensure that, among students, all architectural professions are valued so that architectural studies do not only lead to the exercise of a profession but also to all levels of decision-making in the transformation of cities and landscapes.

- I did so by reaffirming the role of the institutions entrusted by the 1977 law to defend the cultural dimension of architecture and its social role in all territories: the CAUE. In the current context of decentralization and reform of territorial governance, they will be stakeholders, as will the MIQCP (inter-ministerial mission for the quality of public buildings), of the overall reorganization of the public means of expertise, of support and advice. Today, it is a question of reaffirming their missions and their action, of confirming their presence and their expertise, in conjunction with the other public experts concerned, and here I am thinking in particular of the architectural consultants and those working within the decentralized departments of the Ministry of Culture, the Territorial Services of Architecture and Heritage.

- I did it in mobilizing my department on the issue of the threshold of the use of the architect and the reform of the floor surfaces As you know, a joint expert mission, entrusted to the general inspections of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Equality of Territories and Housing, was charged with examining the questions raised by these regulations. The findings of that report have been given to me. They recommend lowering the threshold to 150 square metres and returning to a simpler calculation method.

My colleague Cécile Duflot confirmed in an interview in the Moniteur that she was "a priori favorable". I proposed to the Prime Minister that the decree necessary for the implementation of these recommendations be drawn up without delay. Because, as you pointed out, housing is a priority for the government, and achieving our national housing ambition, regardless of its size, cannot be achieved without architects, architects who are the key players in the fight against trivialization.

- I will do so again this year with a Heritage bill before Parliament which enshrines architectural quality in a sustainable legislative framework. This bill “brings heritage closer to living architecture by promoting quality architecture”, in the words of Catherine Jacquot, the new president of the National Council of the Order of Architects, who understood the decisive advance that this text represents for the profession.

With this text that modernizes and simplifies our heritage law for greater efficiency, we are fully in line with the shock of simplification desired by the President of the Republic, to which you have just recalled your attachment and that of the entire profession.

With this text, we can better protect the architectural heritage of the 20th a century that reflects the thought of the world of yesterday and today because, as Paul Claudel said, “the architect strikes the medal of his time”.

With this text, we will introduce the mandatory advice of CAUE for individuals in municipalities benefiting from a protected heritage.

You know that the Committee on Cultural Affairs of the National Assembly has launched an information mission on architectural creation. It can confirm or nourish the provisions of the heritage bill.

- Finally, I will do so by encouraging dissemination of architectural culture to a wide audience. You said that it is better to create the desire for architecture than to impose it, I agree with you entirely.

That is why I am committed to making each of our fellow citizens aware of the approaches that promote architectural quality, the work of architects, trades and architectural issues. With thearts and cultural education, I want to make young citizens builders of their future living environment. Architectural culture has an essential role to play in the formation and individual construction of the citizens of tomorrow. For as Eupalinos said at the end of the Platonic dialogue imagined by Paul Valéry, "By building, I think I’ve built myself."

These are the ambitions of my ministry to support a discipline and a profession at the heart of our societal challenges.

The winners we are distinguishing today have grasped these challenges with virtuosity, rigour and inventiveness. What brings the four winning projects together, and which particularly touches me, is the ambition of an architecture close to the public, in urban and rural areas, which realises its cultural and social dimension remarkably.

With the Louvre-Lens, you have created, dear Kazuyo Sejima, dear Ryue Nishizawa, dear Catherine Mosbach, the ideal conditions to foster the meeting between our fellow citizens and the masterpieces of our humanity. The transparency, the play of light, the elegance of the slender structures, all invite to enter and discover the collections that are remarkably highlighted in this setting whose beauty has not given itself the ambition to compete with that of the works.

By putting your talents at the service of access to housing for all, you have, dear Armand Nouvet with your project for the XXth arrondissement of Paris and dear Nasrine Seraji for Clermont-Ferrand, demonstrated the essential role of architecture for an economic and sustainable ecological transition and the construction of a more just society. As I said just now, architecture also helps to fight against banality. I strongly reaffirm that it is the diversity of your approaches that creates diversity. This is also the cultural exception that I defend for our creators in France, including architects whose actions do not sacrifice anything to the uses and well-being of the people.

As for you, dear Boris Bouchet, you have imagined a place of exchange and encounter, a space of proximity and solidarity, for an architecture of tomorrow, carried by the young talent that you are, vector of social link at the heart of the development of our territories.

I am delighted with this list, which makes architecture a determining factor in living together and in a more just society where culture is shared. The Socrates of Valéry would not have denied these choices, he who admired in the architect the talent to obtain «from what will be that he satisfies with all the vigour of his novelty the reasonable requirements of what has been».

Thank you.