Johan Després graduated from the Grenoble École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture in 2009 and set up his renovation and masonry business for old buildings in 2013, within the Cabestan professional cooperative. He specialised in baked earth architecture and renovating constructions in rammed earth, an ancient technique that uses clay earth as the main component. Keen not to use building material that the end-of-life can’t be dealt with, Johan Després looked into an ethical approach where the management of building waste stems from not generating it in the first place.
In 2016, in winning the Terra Migaki Design prize in Milan, he was invited to discover Japan and perfect the techniques he had been studying in depth. During this stay, he notably gained knowledge and experience of Japanese earthen walls and continued his research into self-building and how to reconcile design and realisation.
Looking for the perfect gesture
In Japan, the techniques of raw earth plastering are mastered by “sakan” and are recognised for their aesthetic qualities. The gestures used are accurate and complex. The movements of the body, posture of the and an tool, arise from a long and restrictive apprenticeship. This notion of time is essential to mastering a technique. One is not born an artisan, one becomes one through practice and experience.
During his stay at Villa Kujoyama, Johan Desprès will study the diversity of construction practices with Japanese masters and artisans. In looking to a network of Japanese artisans and architects, he will increase his knowledge and practice through a four-month immersion. This residency should result in creating bridges between France and Japan, through workshops, worksites and study trips.