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In this movie we filmed at Domaine de Boisbuchet in southwestern France last month, design curator and collector Alexander von Vegesack gives us a tour round the estate, which features pavilions including Shigeru Ban's first building in Europe, pioneering bamboo structures by Simón Vélez and experimental domes by German structural engineer Jörg Schlaich.
Von Vegesack also explains how he turned the run-down 15th-century country estate into a magnet for leading architects and designers, who come to teach workshops each summer and build pavilions and installations in the grounds.
"It was always my dream to work with young people and [create] a surrounding that is very inspiring for new ideas," he says.
Von Vegesack, who was also the founding director of the Vitra Design Museum, bought Domaine de Boisbuchet in the eighties and set about restoring the 50 hectare estate's agricultural buildings and commissioning a series of new structures.
"I collected for quite a long time," says von Vegesack, who assembled an important collection that included a wide range of Thonet bentwood furniture - a subject in which he became an expert. "I was very much interested in industrial design and I sold a part of my collection to the Austrian government and acquired this property."
The first workshops were held in 1989 and since then leading international figures including Tom Dixon, Maarten Baas, Oliviero Toscani and Patricia Urquiola have led workshops for young people in the summer months.
Dezeen was at Boisbuchet in June for the Blickfang design workshop, which was led by designer Sebastian Wrong.
In the movie above you can see von Vegesack giving the Blickfang workshop attendees a tour of the estate. "We did quite a lot of pavilions with [people including Japanese architect] Shigeru Ban and [bamboo architect] Simón Vélez, who built his first bamboo houses here in Boisbuchet. One of them blew away in the storm of 1999-2000 but the other ones became quite well known."
While building his pavilions and guest houses at Boisbuchet, Vélez pioneered new ways of using giant bamboo from his native Columbia on an architectural scale.
Boisbuchet is dominated by the imposing nineteenth-century chateau, which is still not fully restored but which is used for exhibitions. There is also a traditional Japanese village house dating from 1863, which was dismantled, shipped from Japan and reassembled, and a comtemporary bamboo building, donated by the People's Republic of China.
"In the garden of the chateau there is Shigeru Ban's pavilion," von Vegesack continues. "It was his first [permanent] building here in Europe. And there are two buildings by Jörg Schlaich, the engineer who worked with Frei Otto, building the Munich Olympic stadium."
Ban's buiding uses wooden connections and recycled paper tubes to create a semi-cylindrical structure. Schlaich built two domes, one using split bamboo rods to create a structural lattice and the other employing fibreglass rods.
Each summer Boisbuchet invites architects, designers, artists and other creative professionals from around the world to lead workshops attended by young people and students. "It's not important to be an expert, but just to have an idea and try to make it happen," says von Vegesack. "It's more about developing ideas with a goal you want to demonstrate in three dimensions. And above all to build up a network of good friends, sharing an interest in creating something that might be important for your professional life."
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