The Edge: Stephane Malka, Architecture’s Enfant Terrible.

February 10, 2015 4 min read

Novedge:  Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Stephane Malka: I’m Stephane Malka, Architect since 2003 and CEO of Malka Architecture, a firm I’ve founded 5 years ago. I am always searching for new ways to inhabit the XXI century’s complexity. Stephane Malka- SMbdNovedge: You are Architecture's Enfant Terrible, which of your projects represents your aesthetics and your ethics the best?

Stephane Malka: All of my projects are not seeking for a specific aesthetic, the strategy develops a form in relationship with the site. Take A-Kamp47  for exampleIt  is a full fledged vertical refugee camp. It’s a cheap and fast solution to emergency shelters. It can be quickly installed on any city’s porosity or a blind wall. The rapid shelter opens like an umbrella for urban campers, so they can be covered and warm.Stephane Malka- AKAMP47-12A-kamp47 by night.

In this project, Stealth Shelters respond to the immediate constraints of precarious social and intellectual systems. Another example is Ame-lot, a student’s housing project made of wooden pallet. Stephane Malka- AME01Ame-lot student housing. Photo Renderings Tristan Spella/Malka Architecture.

The project  inserts itself into an urban interstice: the thickness of a blind wall. The urban form is an extension of the blind walls, no building is destroyed, and no pollution generated. The re-appropriation of materials recycles the existing without additional processing, which would cost energy in terms of production and create byproduct pollution. Stephane Malka- AME11The real environmental approach consists not in destruction, but in superimposing interventions upon our built heritage. 

BoomBoxis an in situ contextual installation.  An explosion of the Art Center, it transforms the existing Architecture in order to change the perception and experience of the site. Stephane Malka- BOO19BoomBox Installation.

This urban scenography plays on the dichotomy of elements: on one side there's cardboard, a cheap material that epitomize nomadism; on the other there's stone, a noble material representing longevity in all its static weight. Although separate entities, there is nevertheless an exchange between two bodies, a cultural and social fusion between the academic and the contemporary, at the crossroads between a work of Art and a work of Architecture. Ground, walls and ceilings dissolve their own limits through proliferation of cardboard boxes. The whole system does not respond to the law of gravity any longer. The tridimensional system of reference fades away. Time is suspended; X is the moment of an urban explosion that brings with it the mute cry of the people, of the streets, of our cities.

Novedge: You are an Artist that uses Architecture as a Medium (and the other way around). If there ever was a line between Art and Architecture you did not just crossed it, you erased it. Where do you fit in?

Stephane Malka: I’m rather an Architect who uses Art as a medium. But it’s true, I try to extend the elastic limit between the two of them. I started from graffiti in the mid-eigties, and then moved toward Architecture.  I began using the city gaps and neglected spaces I was spotting as a graffiti artist. I would call my endeavor Graffitecture. Stephane Malka- BOWHOUSE-W17An example of Graffitecture: Stephane Malka's BowHouse. Photo credits Laurent Clement.

Contemporary Art can be much more critical and radical. Above all, it allows me to create some pieces in the city that I couldn’t build within the rigid norms of the Architecture. My productions are Micro-Architecure or Macro-Installations, depending on what side of the lens you’re watching the scenario.

Novedge: What are you working on right now?

Stephane Malka: I’m working on various projects right now :

finishing a refurbishement project for a 1000 m2 office building in the heart of Paris; designing an hybrid XXL furniture including a bench and multiple seats and lounges, library, a phone booth, bar and bed; developing a solo art exhibition stemmed from my book  Le Petit Pari(s) An Architectural Kamasutra; working on my second book with the visionary Architect Yona Friedman, a conversation between the concrete utopias of the XXth and the XXIst century, completed with common projects; designing an innovative ecological communitary housing solution in Ibiza, and preparing the next lectures to come in Europe & Canada.

Novedge: We are very intrigued by the Architecture Kamasutra, tell us more about Le Petit pari(s)…

Stephane Malka: Le Petit Pari(s) is a Framework of projects that inserts themselves on the building héritage as a guideline for a new Architecture and new materials. The book is divided in four chapters according to the literal and geographical positions of the projects within the existing structures:  in front, on top, in between , underneath. That's where the reference to Architectural Kamasutra fits in. This alternative strategy is a statement to recreate an new Architecture, hypercontextual, ecological and innovative.

Novedge: Your work is truly inspiring, but who or what inspires Stephane Malka?

Stephane Malka: Both the evolution and the failures of our world. From political variations to large social shock waves, from ecological disasters and scientific discoveries to spatial conquests of all kind to street intuitive creativity.

NovedgeWhat is your motto?

Stephane Malka: Respect the Architect (laughs).

Novedge: What is the best advice you have ever received in Architecture?

Stephane Malka: Architecture is not about the details, it’s about the social vision that it embodies.

Novedge: You have the possibility to work on, add on, re-do any building/landmark in the world: what's your pick?

Stephane Malka: Without any hesitation: The Grand Arch De La Défense I have a special interest in this building, and this is one of the leading project in my Petit Pari(s)' book. Stephane Malka- AUTO-DefensePhoto Renderings Tristan Spella/Malka Architecture.

This Pockets of Active Resistance were motivated by the desire to create a new  social scenario. It is a modular complex providing an alternative to the defiant lifestyle, by positioning itself in a permanent state of insurrection. The parasite architecture growth is articulated by the vitality of its spontaneous community. This act of Guerilla Architecture sets out to hijack the “Great arch of fraternity.” Unite the forsaken, the marginalized, refugees, demonstrators, dissenters, hippies, utopians, and the stateless of all kinds.


If you want to know more about Stephane Malka and his many projects and engagements check out his website and follow him on Facebook  and Twitter . I have a feeling we just scratched the surface with this interview! 

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