Interview with Chantal Aïra-Crouan and David Habrias

March 2020

Interview with Chantal Aïra-Crouan, partner architect and manager of our Paris branch, and David Habrias, general manager of Kardham.

Alongside the real estate & digital consulting business lines and interior architecture activities, what does the “architecture” business line represent in your group?

Chantal Aïra Crouan : The architecture practice of Kardham was born four years ago, with the acquisition of a Toulouse agency called Cardete Huet. Since then, we have worked on the development of this practice in France, to establish ourselves as the 10th agency in France in terms of turnover.

David Habrias : Last year we delivered magnificent projects, whether for offices, shops or public buildings: the NH Hotel of Blagnac (31), which won the Grand Prix du Simi, designed in collaboration with Patriarche Architects, the Airbus M06 office complex, which covers 14,000 m² in Saint-Martin-du-Touch (31), or the Henri-Mondor hospital center in Aurillac (15), designed in partnership with Métafore, a 7,000 m2 shopping center in Portet-sur-Garonne (31) that we have renovated… Many deliveries are still to come, like that of the Occitanie tower in Toulouse. We don’t have a specialty. Our playground is the city.

 

How is your way of working, and therefore your buildings, different from others?

DH: Kardham is banking on what makes its identity: its diversity! Within a group like ours, we can benefit from the expertise of the different business lines to do architecture differently. Thus, our advice in real estate strategy, our interior designers, our engineering, digital and R&D department (which includes sociologists, ergonomists, etc.) … all help us to confront our projects with reality. And of course, we also collaborate with stakeholders such as promoters, institutions, users, etc.

CAC: We are banking on collective intelligence! Confronting our points of view is both extremely destabilizing for the architects that we are and a bearer of so much wealth! This allows us to imagine buildings that meet market expectations as well as the challenges of the 21st century.

 

You work with sociologists, ergonomists or even digital professionals of the group on each of your projects… What influence do they have on your work?

CAC: When you get such skills, you can identify underlying trends. All of our studies emphasize, for example, the importance of making accessible terraces available to users, a place of porosity between the building and the city, a space for creating social bonds and sharing, even if it means being humbler in other areas of the project… For example, let’s take a look at the current bidding on facades! Being ecological is not just about guaranteeing the energy performance of the building to come. It also means being less greedy in materials. That is what our engineering department allows us to do by modeling the building in detail, to treat each module, each floor, each facade with a fair measure. Certain savings, both in financial and material terms, which allow us to invest in more strategic points.

DH: The idea is not to let studies guide our pen, but that architects impose themselves as the conductors of a whole chain of values ??and skills, to develop together a global vision with more scope long. R&D for example is an essential concept for projecting yourself, in a world where everything changes very quickly and facing the challenges to come (economic, ecological, demographic, etc.) Dream big, and do things well, always keeping your feet anchored in reality. This is our guideline!