Interview with Gilles Retsin for Arch2o

Pleased to have had the opportunity recently to interview Gilles Retsin of Gilles Retsin Architecture, SoftKill Design, co-founder of the UCL Design Computation Lab and director of the M.Arch Architectural Design (AD) Program at the Bartlett School of Architecture.


This is the latest in a series of interviews which delve into the work and philosophy of a handful of contemporary architects who are actively re(de)fining not only architecture proper, but what it means to be an architect today and, perhaps, in the future.

"The 'part' really becomes a kind of digital building block, an element like a Lego, with a specific set of possible connections. This way of working came out of a questioning if it would be possible to make buildings that are physically digital – a kind of criticism towards the project of the digital. But it’s at the same time also really concerned with certain aesthetic questions, compositional issues, et cetera."

Gilles Retsin is a London based architect and designer investigating new architectural models which engage with the potential of increased computational power and fabrication to generate buildings and objects with a previously unseen structure, detail and materiality. His work is interested in the impact of computation on the core principles of architecture – the bones rather than the skin. The practice has developed numerous provocative proposals for international competitions, and is currently working on a a range of schemes, among them a 10000 m2 museum in China. His work has been acquired by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and he has exhibited internationally in museums such as the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil-am-Rhein, Design Exchange Toronto and the Zaha Hadid Gallery in London. He has been invited professor at the Texas A&M University, and has lectured and acted as guest critic in numerous universities internationally. His practice, Gilles Retsin Architecture, will be constructing a pavilion at the upcoming Tallinn Architecture Biennale in Estonia.    

Gilles Retsin studied in Belgium, Chile and the UK, where he obtained a master’s degree from the Architectural Association’s Design Research Lab in London. Gilles gained professional experience while working in Germany and Switzerland, an architect with LAVA in Stuttgart, as a project architect with Christian Kerez in Zurich and research-based practice Kokkugia in London.


Recently he was appointed the Program Director of the B.Pro Architectural Design (AD) Master’s program at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. Within the AD program, together with Manuel Jimenez Garcia and Vicente Soler, he leads Research Cluster 4 (RC4), which focuses on developing design methods for robotic fabrication. A new generation of research initiated by RC4 moves from 3D-printing to Discrete Robotic Assembly, utilizing principally simple building blocks to assemble incredibly complex forms while exploring the possibilities of utilizing robotic fabrication on an architectural scale.

The full interview can be found here: