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DOMINIQUE PERRAULT

AGENDA

Dominique Perrault won a competition last week to design a pavilion for Priory Park in Reigate, Surrey - his offi ce's fi rst scheme on this side of the Channel Congratulations, you've finally picked up a commission in the UK.

For me, this is really great news because I've tried three or four times to build in London or Britain in the past few years, and I'm very glad to have finally won a commission. To be building in London is great - everything is perfect. I'm also excited at working close to engineers such as Arup and Buro Happold.

Did you already know Priory Park before you drew up your proposals?

I visited the site alone and in secret. My schedule is very busy, so I didn't have time to get involved with any special meetings. I simply went there on my own.

What do you make of architecture over here? Do you know much about the British scene?

I'm very interested in what's happening in the UK at the moment, such as in the work of Norman Foster and Richard Rogers. But I'm also interested in the more avant-garde, such as Peter Cook and Future Systems. I also have some very good friends in Britain, like David Chipperfield and Alejandro [Zaero Polo] from Foreign Offi ce Architects.

Do you know Alejandro because of a connection with Rem Koolhaas?

No. We met when we were both working in Barcelona.

I'm pleased that you brought up Barcelona. You're one of the mayor's architecture advisers there. What does that involve?

This is a very interesting role.

The mayor [Joan Clos] is in his second term and he has what we call his 'special club' for architectural advisers.

For example, Richard Rogers is involved as well. This is not about designing actual buildings; it's more about advising on the urban development approach. We also look at projects in development, such as the massive airport plans, and we advise on those.

I interviewed Jean Nouvel recently and asked him whether he thought being a Frenchman had a particular influence on his design ethos. He said not. Do you agree?

The French culture gives a brilliant approach at the start of a project, which I think is the consequence of our history - it's direct and fast. But it would be good if we could merge with other cultures after the start. For example, I've worked with Arup a lot, and the British approach is very good; and the same goes for Germans. I'm sure different cultures do give special values to the way people work.

One of the daft questions we nearly always ask interviewees is whether they have a favourite building in the world? Do you?

This is an impossible question to answer because the standard of modern international architects and their buildings is going up all the time. For instance, I look at Rem [Koolhaas] and Frank Gehry and I'm very excited.

We also ask architects if they have a favourite city.

My answer would have to be Moscow. It's very violent, but it's also very interesting. I'm fascinated by its mix of history - such as the Soviet architecture - and the modern development.

It really has energy. It's not my favourite place for relaxing, but the excitement is amazing.

That's why I like it.

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