Photography Project by Award Winning Architect and Photographer Philippe Sarfati, "Territories" Coming Out Through a Crowdfunding Campaign

French architect and photographer Philippe Sarfati is launching the crowdfunding campaign for his long-term photography project, Territories. The book highlights the importance of imagery in architecture, its strong impact on our perception of built works, demonstrating the potential of allowing more diversity into architectural representation.


Book Territories Photo credit: Philippe Sarfati

Philippe Sarfati has been involved in photography for many years and got first international attention when he won the Sony World Photography Awards 2019 in the architecture category. His project was also selected in 15 other festivals and competitions since then. The latest is the Architizer One Photo Challenge 2021. He won the Commended Entry with "Echo," and his work will be on show in a virtual solo exhibition at the London Festival of Architecture (from June 1 to June 30) designed by himself.


20th Century Museum of Contemporary Art. SANAA, Kanazawa, Japan, Photo credit: Philippe Sarfati

The first impulse behind this experimental project was to inject street photography methodology, particularly the reliance on randomness and spontaneous behavior, into architectural photography. Philippe writes:"Inspired by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine’s films, I wanted to show buildings through the eyes of their users, presenting spaces as inhabited territories. Acclaimed works of architecture become dramatic backdrops to everyday scenes, their radical geometries framing simple acts”.

Book Territories, Photo credit: Philippe Sarfati

On the one hand, architecture is used as a frame, focusing compositions onto a subject with bold volumes and strong lines. On the other hand, people give meaning and scale to the spaces shown. Their attitude builds our perception of the building’s atmosphere. The research of the young architect and street photographer from Paris is based on the genuine, everyday relationship people have with architecture. His work is far away from the staged shots or drone views that dominate the web and books, giving an idea of how everyone can craft an inclusive and accessible narrative of their context.


Messe Basel. Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland, Photo credit: Philippe Sarfati

Over 440 pages, the book depicts 99 remarkable buildings situated in 12 countries, designed by 52 architecture firms. The collection of 233 photographs aims to explore the relationship with architecture, how people live with it, consider its value, promote it. The book is designed as a hybrid between two book typologies - the abstract photo book and the theoretical architecture book.  The project's purpose was to give a different perspective on built works; the book design naturally amplifies this desire. 

Book Territories, Photo credit: Philippe Sarfati

Buildings are always shown indirectly - the reader never sees plans or sections. In the photographs, we see them through people. Philippe shares small anecdotes and information on their designers, engineers, clients, budget, and surfaces in the text. That is all the information usually ignored by the general public, but crucial to have a basic understanding of any operation's context.

Book Territories, Photo credit: Philippe Sarfati

Book Territories, Photo credit: Philippe Sarfati

The book is built around two intertwined sequences, two rhythms that each have their impact on the perception of photographs. 'Fast-forward' black pages only show one situation per building, moving from one vision to the next without any explanation. White pages show 'Walks,' exploration sequences that are more immersive and allow the viewer to wander through buildings, offering a glimpse into their spatial qualities and atmosphere. The first narrative uses spaces to amplify unique, punctual situations and portraits, while the second uses these situations to explore and reveal these well-known spaces in a new light.


Book Territories, Photo credit: Philippe Sarfati

The book is somewhat peculiar and personal, in the sense that all content, from the photographs to the editing, the graphic design, and text, was produced by the same person, except the introduction written by international blogger and communication expert Christiane Bürklein. Arvinius+Orfeus Publishing, the Nordic Region's leading international publishing house specializing in architecture, contemporary art, and design books, will publish the book. Marie Arvinius, CEO of the Stockholm-based company, will organize the production and distribution of the book.


Landesmuseum. Christ & Gantenbein, Zurich, Switzerland, Photo credit: Philippe Sarfati

Philippe Sarfati accompanies his crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter with an interactive Virtual Gallery where interested people can walk through the images and get a closer and direct insight into the artist's work. 


Vieux Port Pavilion. Foster+Partners, Marseille, France, Photo credit: Philippe Sarfati

The book can change. With the idea of the anti-cover, the blank, transparent cover containing a postcard, making every single photograph in the book a potential cover, and giving the option, in a bookstore, to choose the preferred version of the book, to make it even more personal. In the context of a crowdfunding campaign, the idea of giving out postcards along with the book was also interesting, allowing for literal flexibility after buying the book. 

Book Territories - dummies, Photo credit: Philippe Sarfati

About Philippe Sarfati

Philippe Sarfati is a 29 years old architect and street photographer, based in Paris where he studied architecture. He started his career working as a graduated architect with MVRDV, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Currently, he works as an architect with Clément Blanchet Architecture, Paris.