Canal is an architecture studio created in 1982 by Daniel and Patrick Rubin. It soon expanded to become an atelier of 15 persons. Their atypical practice focuses on the reconversion of industrial and patrimonial buildings, an aspect that makes them work mainly for municipalities and other state entities. A part of their work is also devoted to scenography and ephemeral projects such as the creation of urban events. Throughout the years, the studio developed projects as much as a reflexivity towards them, which led to the creation of a publishing house: their catalog presents different works and their creative process and analysis of the subject, or more general themes regarding architecture.
In April 2017, Canal published Construire réversible. The design of this book was created by Thanh-Phong Lê from Travaux-Pratiques. Their latest book published in June 2020 re-uses the established design parameters. Transformation of built situations is an interdisciplinary exploration of how shifting from a rehabilitation perspective of buildings (often as expensive as building new ones) to a reconstruction of them, that would be more economical while saving some aspects of the previous construction. The goal is to think ecologically and economically of a way to build less and save space for buildings that are worth it.
We find here the rationality and clarity that we usually associate to architecture, but with an audacious use of colors, a bright red and a dark blue. It gives at the same time personality to the publications but also visibility to the multiple facets of the books (interviews, project presentation, research papers…), or to different aspects of illustrations depicting the projects. The two-column design structures the pages, and the flexible layout offers a diversity that makes each spread page unique and comprehensible at once. This impression of clarity is reinforced by the use of Stratos from Production Type, a typeface that associates subtly geometric lowercase with compressed antique-like caps. This variation in width makes paragraphs and sentences legible, while being perfectly appropriate to set titles when used in caps. Besides, the particularity of Stratos is the shared widths across all weights of the family: this attention given to space echoes the architects’ initial questioning of its economy. For longer texts, Stratos is paired with Gerard Unger’s Neue Swift.