Bernard Kohn

Architect, Bernard Kohn Agency

Born in France in 1931, Bernard Kohn emigrated to the United States in 1940. He studied at Syracuse, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania (under Louis I. Kahn), then taught in the Department of Urban Planning at Yale University.

He worked in the United States and India, following in the footsteps of Patrick Geddes, before returning to France in 1969, where he joined the Ministry of Cultural Affairs as an educational consultant. Alongside psychosociologist Michel Herrou and architect Georges Maurios, he founded the multi-disciplinary “Environnement et Comportement” agency, where they developed a building system with modular components that allowed the inhabitant to intervene.

In collaboration with C.N. Douady, he was the driving force behind the Cergy-Pontoise educational center from 1970 to 1973. A multi-disciplinary center for professional and continuing education in architecture and urban planning, the antenna is a meeting place for elected representatives, professionals, administrative staff, citizens and users. This experience continued at UP8 in Coupvray and Quincy-Voisins, where “public workshops” were organized in 1976-1977.

In 1976, he set up his own architectural studio in Paris, focusing mainly on public contracts, in which he introduced the concepts of “participative pedagogy”.

Then, in collaboration with Bruno Mougel and Jean-Pierre Vaysse, he founded Bernard Kohn & Associés in Saint-Mandé, which became Ar-thème in 2000.

Participatory architecture is at the heart of every Bernard Kohn project: École Decroly in Saint-Mandé, self-managed housing for 13 families on rue du Buisson St Louis in Paris, urban studies in Alençon, Auch, Gennevilliers and Yzeure (HLM rental housing). In 2021, in his village of Puech, in the Hérault region, he is also buying a plot of land planted with olive trees, previously available for building, and made it accessible to local residents.

Main projects : the Centre d’Action Culturelle in Saint-Avold (1982-1985), the French Embassy in Mexico City (1985-1995), the Cité Judiciaire in Clermont-Ferrand (1986-1992), the cité Royer Bendélé in Gennevilliers (1987-1991), the renovation of the Vieux Colombier theater (1990-1994), the architectural charter and 6 stations for line 14 Météor (1990-1998), the Palais de Justice in Montpellier (1992-1996) and the development of Place Flotte, the architectural charter for Turin’s VAL metro system and the standard station for the Porta Nuova railway station, then went on to refurbish Roland Garros airport in Saint-Denis de La Réunion.

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