"You have to consider the city as a living entity" (Clémence Béchu)

“You have to consider the city as a living entity” (Clémence Béchu)



On the sixteenth floor of a 1970s tower, there is a kingdom. That of the Béchu family. A 360-degree view of Paris, offices bathed in light, divided into more or less large spaces for around fifty people concentrated behind their screens. In this hive, there are above all plans, drawings of buildings to renovate or invent, residential areas to imagine in a city in the South or in the middle of the Moroccan desert. Clémence Béchu and one of her associates, Luca Bertacchi, spend time enthusiastically explaining the architectural approach of each project.

Building, creating, innovating… so many verbs that have been part of the DNA of the Béchu family, and have been for more than a century. Over the years, the ancestors, stonemasons by trade, became engineers and architects. This was the case for Clémence’s great-grandfather, her grandfather and her father. She is the fourth generation of the clan, without a degree in architecture, but with on her CV, among other things, two MSG (master’s degree in management sciences), one in accounting and finance and the other in international project management obtained at the ESCP Business School.

Family history is inexorably inscribed in the earth. Especially on this land of the 15th arrondissement of Paris where the agency is located. The towers making up the urban ensemble imagined by Anthony Béchu, Clémence’s father, thus rise in place of a space long occupied by a single house. The one where the two previous generations were born. In this story running over a century, everything seems coherent, almost obvious.

Only one step was not so simple: the arrival of Clémence in 2014 within the agency as director of development. She hesitated for a long time before joining the clan, and working alongside her father, still at the head of the agency, and her sister in charge of interior architecture and design. From now on, the quadra is working to ensure “generational transition and ecological transition” as she repeats.

“My scientific profile, my role as a mother and my sensitivity to the ecological cause motivate me on a daily basis. With a strong objective: to go beyond speeches to be in action. » Action that materializes in architectural projects intended to design the city of tomorrow. “Our ambition is to improve the adaptability of cities, responsible for and victims of climate change, to our environment. Biomimicry, for example, is one way to achieve this. » When nature – fauna and flora – inspires the habitat of tomorrow…


Clémence Béchu’s journey is a long series of clicks, key moments that forge ambition and conviction. From her childhood, she kept the memory of site visits with her father, brother and sister: “We were born with a helmet on our head” she said smiling. But architecture is not for her.

She dreams of being an orthopedic surgeon, succeeds in a first year of medicine before getting up one morning and telling her parents: “I quit. I think there are other ways to care for others. » First click, first turn and departure for the university. Her father keeps telling her that she has to find a “job-passion”. We are in 2002, Anthony Béchu is developing a project in Shanghai: the construction of CELAP, the nation’s institute for advanced studies in business administration. A building that the agency materializes in a huge red lacquered paint table. A phrase from the patriarch sufficed: “Go learn Chinese!” » Clémence Béchu expatriates for two and a half years, does a series of internships, sees Beijing transform, the neighborhoods renovate. Above all, she understands to what extent the city is part of a history and an environment.

On her return to France, the young woman moved from EURO RSCG to Cap Gemini as a consultant. She is 28 years old, has just met her husband Jean-Philippe. New trigger: thanks to a remark from the latter – “All my friends use our cellar to store their wine but I have no more space” – they decide to quit their job and set up their company Winesitting. “I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. It was my first big experience. » The company became the leading market place for professionals, while Clémence Béchu was still thinking about her future. Second sentence of her husband: “Don’t you think the time has come to join your father at the agency?” » Words spoken a few days after the same interrogation on the part of his sister. In 2014, Clémence Béchu agreed to work with the family after a final remark – final click – from her father: “How do you see the agency in 10 years? »


Projecting is his daily life: “Architects think of 20 years” she repeats. And his interest in environmental issues remains his compass. We must consider the city as an ecosystem, “a living entity”.

One of the means of implementing this ambition is biomimicry: drawing inspiration from the cells of a cactus to design the facades of a building and thus naturally controlling solar energy. Building a campus in the Moroccan desert, including a steel cable canopy and Sahrawi-coloured sunshade fabric for solar control of the living space outside the buildings. Or even build a circular district in the cold Moscow on the life model of penguins and thus gain a few precious degrees. Every explanation is clear. From ” common sense “ as our ancestors understood it.

Clémence Béchu who calls herself “committed entrepreneur” decided to go further after a double meeting behind the scenes of COP 21. With scientist Laurent Husson and researcher Yves M. Tourre, she launched the start-up Climate Company. Together they think up UCIX, a micro-scale climate sensitivity index. Millions of data from satellite observation are combined with deep statistics. And produce an assessment of climate risks over more than twenty years for very specific areas (a few hundred meters). A new generation of mapping that has already convinced private players (banks, insurance), while waiting for public authorities…

IN 2050

For Clémence Béchu, the watchword is always the same: adaptability. Considering the environment rather than constraining it to our desires for urbanity. Climate Company – recently awarded by the Pierre Cardin Foundation as an emblematic initiative for ecology – is “a project for our children” emphasizes Clémence Béchu.

If it is difficult for her to project herself into 2050, she has her sights set on 2030. “70% of the world’s population will then live in cities. The environmental challenges are colossal. But I remain convinced that we must imagine the ecological transition as a transformation offering incredible opportunities. And not as a sum of constraints. »

There is no talk of eco-anxiety in her, but rather the permanent desire to find concrete solutions to each project that she envisages as a different company, “an adventure that requires reinventing a story”. She praises multidisciplinarity, teamwork and repeats that the professional future of the profession of architect depends on taking these environmental challenges into account. “We must give meaning to our professions” repeats Clémence Béchu. And continue the “conversion”that of the agency, that of the city, and that of the company.

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