The impulse behind this experimental photo project was to inject methodology from street photography – mostly, the reliance on serendipity and spontaneous behaviour – into architectural photography. Inspired by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine’s films, Philippe Sarfati wanted to show buildings through the eyes of their users, by presenting spaces as inhabited territories. Acclaimed works of architecture thus become dramatic backdrops to everyday scenes, their radical geometries framing simple acts.
The photographs in this book play with the notion of contextual portraiture. On the one hand, architecture is used as a frame, by focusing compositions onto subjects through bold volumes and strong lines. On the other hand, people give meaning and scale to the spaces shown. Their attitudes heighten our perception of the building atmospheres.
Our environment shapes us, and we continuously and subconsciously shape it by the simple act of inhabiting it.
Philippe Sarfati (b. 1992) is a French architect and photographer based in Paris. His approach to architectural photography aims to question and challenge its very notion, and is inspired by the visual languages of photojournalism and street photography. He was named Architectural Photographer of the Year 2023 by Architizer.