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Building a more sustainable world

Vanessa Grob is an architect of Chilean origins. She sees her job firstly as a means to improve the people’s life with a positive impact on the environment. Two challenges at the heart of her passion.

Choosing a course in the French education system


More than a job, architecture is a way of life for Vanessa Grob. The young lady arrived in France in 2002 at 29 years old. She graduated in architecture in 1997 in Chile, and wanted to perfect her skills in bioclimatic architecture, a field in which France is acknowledged for its know-how. Besides, she had already studied in a French school in Chile, because her parents had lived in France for several years.

So France was a natural choice. She chose the city of Toulouse, to take a European Master’s course in “architecture and sustainable development”! Vanessa loved the “Pink City” and her two future associates. 2003 was a busy year. Vanessa Grob passed her Master’s degree after defending her essay. As soon as she got her degree, she went to Paris to create her firm, Atelier D.

A new Parisian, she was not over with studies. Since her Chilean degree did not bring enough recognition in France, she validated the academic subjects she missed at the School of Architecture of Paris-La Villette. She did not fear a possible gap with other students’ level, since they did not have the experience she had on the field: “In law and worksite management class, I was the only one to ask questions”, she remembers with a smile. And in 2012, Vanessa Grob obtained the “authorisation to act as chief contractor as an independent worker”, a key necessary to register to the board of architects association, and to conclude projects in France.

Betting on sustainability

There’s no lack of work for Atelier D. The three associates bet on the full integration of an eco-friendly process in their projects, and not simply add it for marketing or legislation reasons. Thanks to this choice, they won several major projects throughout the world, including for the Supreme Court of Burundi, the headquarters of the European Union in Bujumbura, a programme of urban regeneration in Santiago, Chile, and housings in hemp concrete in Paris. Today, they work in construction projects and renovation projects, but also develop their international aspect.

To develop the sustainable process even more, Vanessa Grob launched in 2016 Public Space Lab, a structure designed to support contracting authorities on the path of regenerative development. This unprecedented approach aims at a better appropriation of public spaces by users, and goes in line with an improved citizen participation. Two principles in which Vanessa Grob believes more than anything.

Passing down her passion

Vanessa loved her studies in France, and she’s happy to have been able to enjoy a “real know-how on bioclimatic architecture”, and to have had the chance to study with “true experts, very involved for the most part”. Sharing her know-how is important to her, so she’s now teaching in an MBA course in sustainable development in Paris. This is a great opportunity to pass down to the next generation of architects her meaning of the job: being at the service of the people and change her art in a vector of well-being and civic action, a lever to improve the life of women and men throughout the world. In other terms, to simply share her passion.