Nicolas Michelin

Founder and director, ANMA


Michelin is founder of ANMA, the architects behind the new French Ministry of Defence, due for completion in 2014.

How did you approach the design of the new ministry of defence?
I had to consider the building’s function and what it represents: soldiers and strength, but a purposefully secretive element, too.

Describe some of the more unique aspects of the project.
The military required a central “pole” to connect the different sectors – army, navy and so on – creating a hexagon. People have called it the “French Pentagon” but that was not my intention.

What was your intention?
Something abstract and peaceful. There is plenty of white – I wanted to evoke the image of the army as something that preserves the peace. I also tried to add surprises. There will be 10 courtyard gardens; I don’t think the generals will expect that.


Colombia [backpacks]

When Colombia’s elite special forces go on jungle missions against Farc guerillas they take two backpacks, which last 40 days and weigh 110kg.

Inside the big backpack:
1 T-shirt
1 set of underwear
1 protective helmet
1 rain poncho
2 guns
1 harness
1 pair of night-vision goggles
1 first-aid kit
1 10m sling
2 military glow sticks
1 torch
1 flasher
1 GPS compass pouch
1 hand compass
1 ration
2 water flasks
Insect repellent
Camouflage face paint
Toothbrush and toothpaste

Inside the small backpack:
5 T-shirts
5 sets of underwear
1 uniform
1 pair of boots
1 pair of flip flops
1 balaclava
1 towel
1 pair of gloves
1 stick
1 sleeping mat
3 rations

Monocle 24

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