The house in the rock: an interview with the architect Michel Boucquillon
Born in Belgium in 1962 from a Belgian father and German mother, Michel Boucquillon graduated in architecture at Saint-Luc in Brussels in 1986. In 1988, aged 26, after two years of working experience in Florence, he won the Architectural competition of the Chamber of the European Parliament in Brussels, signing the beginning of his Architectural and design career. In ‘2000, he opened a second workshop dedicated to industrial design products and experimental architecture in Lucca – Tuscany in his home and office Alibia, where he lives with his wife Donia Maaoui and their two daughters.
Villa Alibia is an extraordinary property, a laboratory and place of experimentation. The villa, the guest house and the swimming pool are real jewels of contemporary architecture and technology immersed in the Tuscan nature. The architecture of the two properties is very bright and transparent.
This is the first house in the world with a hydraulic roof: the two wings of the roof of the villa open at a 30 ° angle like the wings of a butterfly allowing natural ventilation to cool the house and bringing to the villa a very unique magic sensation of literally sleeping under the stars.
Michel is currently working for exclusive clients and for world-known design companies such as Alessi, Artemide, Antoniolupi, Aquamass, Auerhahn, Martinelliluce, Nestle, Serralunga, Tecno, Technolux, Valli Arredobagno, Valli&Valli. He won many international awards and his design creations are exposed in many museums all over the world.
Architect Michel Boucquillon sat down for an interview and touched on an array of topics, from the start of his successful career to his future project.
When did you realize you wanted to be an architect?
All began when I was around 10 or 11 years old. I visited the farm situated close to the house where I lived and it was that bad organized that I returned home and did a little plan sketch called “the ideal farm”. I showed it to the farmer, who thought I was crazy. However, I loved it and it gave me the first sensation of being an architect. At the age of 15 I decided to study architectural drawing at the high school before graduating in Architecture in St Luc, Brussels.
Where does your passion for beauty and art comes from?
All the men of my family, both father and mother side, are Engineers. I am an hybrid: I have always loved drawing and inventing. Architecture made me discover design, and design made me discover art. My wife, Donia, is a sculptor, so we are totally in full immersion with art.
What does villa Alibia represent to you and your career?
When my wife and I decided to move to Italy, we wanted to build our “world of architecture” in one of the most beautiful places in Tuscany: Lucca. We found this extraordinary 10 hectares land in the first hill around Lucca, one of the very rare place where you can perfectly see the hole city and its walls, the middle-aged towers from 200meters high. We wanted to make an innovative but respectful architecture totally opened on the magnificent Mediterranean vegetation by sliding the big windows and opening the roof. The result is a very pleasant place where you have the impression to be outside of the real world, in total harmony with the wonderful surroundings. Who enters in the house is totally emerged in our world and our sensibility. I would say everything you see was drawn by myself, by Donia or by both. The architecture, the furniture, kitchenware, the sculptures, the limited edition furniture …
What can we expect from you in the future? Are you currently working on another magnificent project?
In the future, I will continue creating architectural project worldwide for exclusive clients and industrial design, which is my second passion. At the moment I’m constructing two private houses where the roof will open like in our house. In the design field, I’m drawing with Donia a wide collection of object for Alessi brand, called Bark. I am also drawing high quality furniture, lamps and bathroom products for other world known companies.