Two office locations, two partners, one design method. The preconditions for this were laid down during the architects’ studies. Both of them are excellent draughtsmen and in earlier days communicated almost daily by means of drawings and regular drawing diaries. The drawing gave the answer to the architectural project, not in the shape of a hasty sketch but generally as a coloured image. Today both of them work in a more conceptual way, more individually and more independently, but each of them is always certain of the other. Given the wealth of projects on which the practice works daily consultation is neither possible nor necessary. “We both work parallel, without discussion” (HH), and “communicate silently with each other like an elderly married couple”. (FV) The impatience of both is a guarantee that long-term collaboration remains a certainty without ever becoming a tedious routine. Ten years ago nobody was able to tell their drawings apart. This has changed: the differences – Hubert Hermann is more the urban, intellectual type, François Valentiny, moved rather by intuition, grew up in a rural area between vineyards and small villages – have, in fact, grown. Both their personalities have developed. Hubert Hermann has taken on a professorship in Leipzig, where he teaches architecture students, François Valentiny has designed his first stage sets and is so thrilled by the rapid and fantastical implementation of his drawings in built theatre spaces that he wants to pursue this challenge more often in the future. Both acknowledge their development: “In fact two new lives have developed parallel and in this way we have each gained a little freedom.” (FV) The question about how architects design is always exciting, the answers are always different. One can safely ascribe the stories often told about sketches on tablecloths and napkins that led to masterpieces to the realm of legend. HVP definitely do not approach their buildings as works of art. Nor do they feel and think in images or forms that then become built space by means of the drawing. Both confirm that they do not develop their ideas but that the ideas find them, as if one were to open “drawers out of which solutions seem to spill”. (FV) For both of them designing is a “quick, entirely natural act” (HH), and bringing together a certain function – whether it be a singlefamily house or a bank – with the sketched or drawn idea is a simple matter. When François Valentiny designed the Rackey Gallery at the end of the 1990s while detailing of his drawings, by chance he came across sketches from the 1970s that resembled the new studies down to the smallest aspect. “It is as if I have archives of ideas inside me that I only have to open.” In earlier times HVP found it important to first of all formulate the volumes in their drawings, while the materials to be used later were not yet identifiable. Today, now that the use of materials in their buildings has developed consistently and is “extremely important” to both of them, the drawings also provide information about the materials of which the building will be made – for example through massive thick areas or strokes of chalk that one can scratch away at or incise lines in – and about its intended effect. The drawings are by no means more general than the buildings that follow later; on the contrary, they frequently contain more details and more diverse formal starting points than the completed building. Both architects are the designers in their office. Their respective teams work out their thoughts and images in the form of precise plans. And both agree that “designing is not a democratic process”. Many architects define themselves in terms of formal tendencies; this was initially the case with HVP also. Today their architecture reflects an approach that is the result of a long maturing process. Both these architects have grown distrustful of absolute judgements and preconceived ideas in architecture. They adhere to no theories, tending more to follow Picasso’s approach that what counts is what one does.