Emerging Voices Lecture Series: cao | perrot Studios & PRODUCTORA
By Sara Carpenter / Published by Dwell

Andy Cao introduced cao | perrot studio, describing his firm as “landscape artists.” The duo like to create immersive environments with their work, a feat they accomplish via Skype as Cao resides in Los Angeles and Perrot in Paris. Basing their projects on mood and atmosphere, their work is in a constant state of evolution. An admiration for fashion and its use of innovative materials, cao | perrot studio often incorporates unconventional materials into their landscape design.

The white glass piles seen in this backyard garden by cao | perrot studio mimic salt farms in central Vietnam. Photo by Stephen Jerrome.

This material experimentation began early in Cao’s career, with his first project: a backyard garden. He used the creative process not just to create an outdoor environment but as a means of defining himself. A highly personal project, hazy memories of his youth in Vietnam served as a basis for the trial and error design process. The unorthodox use of glass for landscape design (45 tumbled tons of it to be exact!) resulted in a dynamic environment that changes with weather, seasons, sunrise, and sunset.

A hand-stitched nylon carpet stretched over the ground of the Lullaby Garden and changed colors over time as natural elements took their toll. Photo by Stephen Jerrome.

Cao | perrot studio’s Lullaby Garden was surrounded by a wall of fishing line. The “invisible fence” affected the view inside depending on the viewer and sun’s locations. Photo by Stephen Jerrome.

Evolving projects seem to come with the firm’s territory. The White Dome cao | perrot studio constructed within the ruins of a church embraces change both in its design and as a representation of its origin. A pseudo jellyfish shape of Swarovski crystals hung above a plot of wheat that was planted at random times throughout the exhibition. The transformation and regeneration of the plant paid homage to the spiritual location. These projects have shown the firm’s unique capacity to tap into a location’s hidden significance and translate it into an experience.

Cao | perrot studio’s Swarovski crystal cupola at the Saint-Barthelemy Collegiate Church in Beauvais, France. Photo by cao | perrot studio.

Whereas cao | perrot studio identify as artists, PRODUCTORA could be seen as problem-solvers. Wonne Ickx spoke about the international-comprised team’s goal to find a “specific ambition…solution…to every project.” They achieve this through a clear sense of geometry and a devoted concern to material use.

PRODUCTORA’s submission for the Aalto Campus Competition was four cohesive rectangular buildings situated over an underground circular space used to connect the edifices. Image by PRODUCTORA.

A public art installation in Grand Prairie, Texas, the Willow Tree by cao | perrot studio is comprised of 80,000 mother of pearl leaves hanging from 2,500 stainless steel branches. Photo by cao | perrot studio.

For a corporate office building in Caracas, Venezuela, the PRODUCTORA team has devised a plan that will yield the highest building in the city. When shown the plot of land for the project, they realized the space would be best served remaining as open as possible. Facing a public plaza, they wanted to create a building that would still permit passersby. To do this they compressed the footprint of the building and designed up. Employing a double façade (something Ickx calls an easy trick for architects) the bottom half of the building is window-filled to maintain the airiness of open grounds. The covered higher portion creates a white monolithic structure whose appearance grows more abstract at greater distances.

The A47 Mobile Library by PRODUCTORA was commissioned by a client who wanted to share his collection of art books with the public. Finding the project’s reason for existence (the books) to pose the “main obstacle” in planning, the firm created a striking solution and used them to create a frieze in the truck’s interior. Photo by Luis Gallardo.

A copious amount of columns hide a classic streak within the contemporary plan the firm developed for the House of Arts & Culture in Beirut. Layered, the columns produce a curtain-like effect. This gives sunlight ample opportunity to cast shadows in the building’s interior, creating a lively atmosphere for an arts building.

A rendering by PRODUCTORA for the House of Arts & Culture in Beirut, Lebanon reveals a bold building that contrasts with nearby architecture. Image by PRODUCTORA.

Mexico City-based PRODUCTORA have taken on an interesting role outside that of architecture firm. The group noticed a need for an organization to help foster the growth of architecture in Latin America and created LIGA, an exhibition forum for architects in the region. They compare it to a south-of-the-border version of the Architectural League, hosting exhibitions, activities, lectures and events to help raise the dialogue on architecture in Central and South America.

Excavation will begin for CAF Headquarters in the next month or two. The building’s footprint was minimized to augment open space on the ground level. Image by PRODUCTORA.

PRODUCTORA created three modernist boxes to maximize the lake-view for this house. Working on a slope, the boxes were stacked and zig-zagged to create terraces and additional outdoor terrace space. Photo by Rafael Gamo.

Sara Carpenter


Sara is a design, bikes, baking, traveling, and pizza enthusiast. She recently left the world of television for greener pastures in modern design.

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