Jean-Marie Massaud has built a following for his finely detailed designs since graduating from L'ENSCI in Paris in 1990. The recipient of numerous awards, his work is displayed in the design collections of major museums and has attracted companies such as B&B Italia, Porro, Baccarat, Poliform, Flexform and Yamaha to commission his studio. But Massaud, with his business partner Daniel Pouzet, is now building a name for designing large architectural projects including the commissions for a new soccer stadium at Guadalajara in Mexico owned by local vitamin-drink magnate Jorge Vergara. With some of the world's leading architects tipped for the project, the choice of Massaud was a surprise to many.

"We scheduled a meeting with Vergara to discuss a hotel in Puerto Vallarta. But his private jet was delayed on route and his associate arrived in Paris alone. We mentioned the stadium and our ideas just started to unfold," says Massaud,, who envisaged the roof of the new stadium to be shaped like a volcano. Sketches of the stadium show it disappearing into the volcanic form, with parking concealed below the grassed surface. "The outside of the stadium becomes a large park when it's not being used. Families can picnic on the grassy slopes." Massaud sees the roof as a cloud floating above the stadium. While the initial concept took only 10 minutes to create, it has taken more than three years to work out the details.

However, the stadium is no more daunting than some of the other large-scale projects coming out of the Paris-based studio. Massaud and Pouzet are designing an entire city block in New York that includes apartments, townhouse and a park.

While Massaud fully appreciates the need for functionality in his designs, it's not what drives his work. "These days, architects and engineers tend to feel that you must be able to see how a building works. For us, it's the opposite. It's better if you don't understand how everything holds together. That's the magic."