|Urban Concern / 1999-2002 / Amsterdam
How did you get a chance to realize
Urban Concern in Amsterdam?
The Amsterdam funds for the arts,
via one person, Harald Schole, himself an artist,
asked me the
question first, about a color concept for the
area called Tuinwijk in which there are 76 houses
and 5 streets. For me, it was not enough to create
a concept. Even though we knew that such an idea
would be difficult to put on the table, I thought
we could try to realize it. Luckily, the housing
corporation reacted really positive.
The main goal at this point was to convince everybody
without anything more than an idea. I would create
a large gamut of color and the residents could
choose the colors they wished. So in this way,
it was impossible to make a sketch of the final
How did you convince the residents?
It took us 20 months to convince
everybody and then I made my first contact with
living there. We had a conference, and found
solutions to problems they were having. Being
afraid of colors, for example. I had one group
conference for residents, one smaller one with
the house corporation and some deciders. Personal
meetings, I don't know, there were so many, planned
or not, just like this in the street, but I made
more then 600 personal appointments for talks
and technical reasons, which never happened with
the traditional paint companies.
At the end, after 2 months of collecting the
colors, everything was really positive and I
started to paint. Around 15 houses changed colors
during the painting process.
Did you get close to the residents
during the series of meetings?
I lived really closed to there.
It was part of my conditions of the contract,
so I was ready
to come at any time to solve a problem or give
an answer to a specific question. In this way,
I shared a lot of things with the residents,
some good and some bad. When you put yourself
in society, you are kind of searching for inside
stories, and I found so many things in Tuinwijk.
As a foreigner(French), it was really good for
me to, I could write a book about it.
|Urban Concern /
1999-2002 / Amsterdam
Unlike painting on canvas, when
you paint on doors, furniture, or buildings,
there must be
some technical matters to be considered, for
example, the strength of the buildings, maintenance,
how did you deal with those matters?
When I worked on the house project, Urban Concern,
I worked closely with the Kox-Engels and the
Sikkens paint industry. I had to give a guarantee
to the housing corporation of course. Industrial
techniques were needed.
|backside before painting
How was the reaction of residents
after the project? Were they satisfied?
They were more than satisfied, they asked to
have the backsides of the houses painted as well.
It was not meant to be but I made the in between,
the residents and the house company and they
accepted to continue the work. As a result, it
finished much stronger. I painted all the backs
as well, but with the possibility of course to
change colors from the front side or do it in
monochrome. I even painted a house in black,
which was definitely the best according to their
nice Japanese garden. I was positively surprised
by the result..
Also, by this project, Urban Concern, Amsterdam
city hall painted street lights based on my color
|backside after painting
After the project, when new residents
move in, they can choose new colors from your
Yes I have already painted 2 new
houses for the new residents. I don’t know
what is happening now. The house corporation
has the color gamut,
so they can also do it themselves and contact
me with any questions they have.
|Urban Concern / 1999-2002 / Amsterdam
Are you satisfied with this project
and do you want to do this kind of project?
I'm very glad with what happened
in Amsterdam, it was an enormous experience,
human and architecturally speaking. It took me
4 years to make it happen, which gives me an
insight into what really happened. I'm still
happy to go there, to visit, and to see how things
grow old. I still see people whose houses I painted
and we are always happy to see each other. If
such a project happened again, I would definitely
go for it.
Interview vol.3 Franck Bragigand archive