François Leclercq is an architect and an urbanist. In 1981, he graduated from the UPA 6 La Villette, alongside Fabrice Dusapin, with whom he decided to set up a firm. In 1982, they won the Pan XII in 1982, and, in 1985, they were awarded the Albums de la Jeune Architecture prize.
At the same time, Leclercq worked with Yves Lion, notably on a research project proposed by the PUCA, which revisited the production and design of residential units: Domus demain, la bande active. He used the project to confirm his belief in the absolute need to fight on a day-to-day basis for the quality of residential units, and counter the permanent erosion of collective ambitions vis-à-vis what has become a quasi-financial product trapped between margins and purchasing power. The first project delivered by the Dusapin Leclercq firm – residential units for the RIVP in Paris’s 13th arrondissement – received Le Moniteur’s Prize for a First Work in 1988.
Through his many projects, notably the extension to the Corentin Celton Hospital, to which he provided an eminently urban solution underpinned by the idea that the city should meld with the hospital via its activities and passageways, rather than being a place closed in on itself, François Leclercq develops the conviction that he should approach projects as both an architect AND an urbanist.
A tireless and intuitive walker, he is convinced that an original, non-standardised approach should be applied to the city. Among his concerns are how to live with networks; urban projects such as the Bois Habité in the Euralille neighbourhood, and Paris Nord Est reflect this approach.
His thought concerning typology and uses is another constant in his approach to office space, which is characterised by a particular emphasis on the relationship between the inside and the outside. In this spirit, he completed the head office of the Caisse Nationale de Prévoyance in Angers – for which he was awarded Le Moniteur’s Équerre d’Argent prize in 1996 – and an office building for France Télécom in Arcueil in 2007. Taking up a position against the tabula rasa approach, Leclercq affirms the need to work with what already exists. The transformation into offices of the MacDonald Warehouses in Paris is a manifesto for the déjà-vu. Similarly, the Jean-Baptiste Corot lycée in Savigny-sur-Orge applies the same modus operandi, while simultaneously affirming the need for a landscape-city.
François Leclercq set up his own company in 2010. He has led large-scale architectural and urban projects including the Euroméditerranée extension (Marseille), and the strategic plan for the La Défense business district. He has conducted fundamental research into infrastructure, notably on motorways, including a strategic metropolitan study for the rehabilitation of the A4 (2014).
The firm’s architectural projects are designed as micro-urban settings. Examples include the training facilities for athletes at the INSEP (French National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance) in the Bois de Vincennes in Paris, and the Nelson Mandela Lycée on the Ile de Nantes (2016). This approach to architecture and urbanism has also been applied to campuses such as Nanterre-Arboretum, located on the site of the town’s former paper mills.
For Leclercq, the Mediterranean city constitutes a laboratory in which he reflects on the sustainable city. Alongside his work in Marseille, in 2017 he delivered a strategic study on the territory of the metropolis of Montpellier, destined to serve as a foundation for the elaboration of a Territorial Coherence Scheme (SCOT). This project reached the sea in the form of an extension to the port of the Grande Motte, for which he won the prize in 2018. He has also developed studies in other Mediterranean cities, namely Tagadirt in Morocco, and Malaga in Spain.
François Leclercq has taught at Tolbiac, Paris, and the Marne-le-Vallée School of Architecture. He has published numerous articles and several books, including Ville affectives, villes effectives (« Affective cities, effective cities » (2004), Pour la ville, quel que soit l’état du monde (“For the city, whatever the state of the world”)(2006), Géographies sentimentales (“Sentimental geographies”) (2012), and Retour au Bois habité (“Return to the Bois Habité”) (2014).