Prompt: talking to building goldsmiths
The Geste d'Or * challenge rewards remarkable feats of restoration. The craftsmen Michel Fleury and Philippe Bertone, supported by Gaël Roumeau and Dominique Petelaz, application advisors at Vicat Cement, received a special award for works using Prompt natural cement. Below, an interview with the two winners, who are passionate about heritage restoration.
How did you get the idea of taking in this competition using Prompt natural cement?
Michel Fleury: I didn’t even know the competition existed! When Gaël Roumeau spoke to me about it, I thought it would be a great idea. The crafts community is a very closed one, and it needs to broaden its outlook. The Heritage Show gave me a chance to meet architects and fellow craftsmen, and to talk about my know-how. I didn’t expect such success. It produced contacts with architects, some of whom have even come to visit my site!
Philippe Bertone: Like Michel, it was Dominique Petelaz who talked to me about the competition and urged me to enter. I sent my entry at the last minute, without getting together with an architect. That was one of the conditions, but it didn’t stop us winning a prize!
Can you tell us a little about your atypical careers?
Michel Fleury: I learnt to become a mason on worksites. At 36 years of age, I joined the Compagnons du Devoir to train vocationally as a teacher in technology. Once I got my CAP certificate, I met someone who helped me to learn the trade on some very technical and specific worksites. I’ve now been doing this for 12 years, and I have an apprentice with me and a team that can grow in numbers for a given project. I train craftsmen on lime renders as part of the CAPEB programmes, as well as private individuals.
Philippe Bertone: I was manager of a design office in robotics for 10 years. After heading up a company abroad, I created an association to promote heritage restoration using plaster. I learned on the job working with craftsmen. I then created my own company and got a heritage restoration license. Today, three people work for me, and the team will grow or contract according to projects.
What projects are you working on?
Michel Fleury: I specialise in lime techniques. My projects are primarily to do with restoration, with the renovation of old buildings and façades, and all the techniques that use lime and Prompt natural cement.
Philippe Bertone: As a heritage restorer, I work primarily on heritage restoration projects. I work in masonry and decoration, using Prompt natural cement, lime and plaster.
The jury created a special award to give you a prize. Does this encourage you to take part again?
Michel Fleury: This wonderful experience allowed me to understand that architects are really, really demanding! The recognition of the jury for the quality of our work was therefore enormously gratifying. The members of the jury invited me to join the jury for next year (in 2011), and I said YES!
Philippe Bertone: Yes, it is an interesting approach. I hope to be able to take part again, but this time working with an architect.
* A competition chaired by the Compagnie des Architectes de Copropriété and sponsored by Groupe Vicat and the company Amonit.