Team Representative: Lucile Ado (FR) – urbanist architect
Associates: Alessandro Benacchio (IT), Perrine Frick (LI) – urbanist architects
Contributor: Rocco Azziz Marafatto (IT) – architect
212 rue Judaique, 33000 Bordeaux (FR)
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A. Benacchio, L. Ado, P. Frick & R.A. Marafatto
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1. How did you form the team for the competition?
The team was formed for this competition, motivated by a strong friendship and the will to share ideas to develop together a project in a challenging way. Our different backgrounds, origins and experiences helped us to keep the mind open.
2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: the place of productive activities within the city?
Our project set up a crossed approach between urban design and planning, and proposes tools for both concepts. The topic and the competition in itself called for this crossed approach. We looked at Toulouse metropolitan gate as a door opened on a wide and fertile landscape, looking forward to understand its ability to improve the current condition of this buffer zone. In this particular case, it is not properly a suburban area. Here in Toulouse, urban, commercial, industrial, agricultural and natural spots occur without creating a new urban condition. They CO-exist. Deeply enhanced inside this specific territory, the project aims to raise punctual strengths more than applying a brand-new layer. To us, big trends and low signals for positive changes are both powerful. Productiveness is seen as a resilient capacity to reduce, reuse, recycle, upgrade and reveal everything that is already there. Inside a complex mechanism of systems where everything is interdependent and moving fast, "urban productivity" is when the different components are moving ahead in a symbiotic way.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
Toulouse site is mainly composed by two elements arriving at the end of a productive cycle at the same time. On one hand, productive areas and big commercial boxes need to evolve. On the other hand, both agricultural and natural landscapes need to find a new way to exist under the pressure of the metropolitan's extension. Specific questions are raised by the site's needs and the research topic: productive city, met in a spread way across the 7 square kilometres. Along this landscape, we have identified situations that could be very efficient starting points, because they are currently mutable and able to catalyse new practices on the long term. In this way, we believe that bigger projects such as a 7 square kilometres agricultural park (agriparc) could emerge and be productive for both sides: city and countryside. Moreover, by creating a breeding ground instead of imposing a vision, we let actors interact to create new possibilities.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
As we have all studied and worked in North-Eastern Italy, we are familiar to the very specific condition of the citta diffusa, which is the base of a bigger field of research about the horizontal metropolis across Europe, led by Pr. Paola Vigano, amongst others. This research settled our theoretical framework. Another important work is the one of Pierre Calame and his essay about oeconomy and the oeconomic territorial agencies he set up as operative tools. Then, we had many supports across different fields we could mention, but it would be long, so to shortcut them: James Corner with his investigation "taking the measure across American landscape" helped us to look beyond the site's boundaries. OMA and their early research about mixed programs and the slogan "shopping = ecology" challenge us to rethink the commercial centre as a part of the whole territorial system, making it an entity of the agriparc and the support of a new mobility network. Franck Poirier (BASE landscape architects) helped us defining the agriparc with his article about "Le parc à haut niveau de services", reversing landscape and mobility infrastructures' roles to carry new uses.
5. Urban-architectural projects like the ones in Europan can only be implemented together with the actors through a negotiated process and in time. How did you consider this issue in your project?
We would like to go further in the negotiation processes occurring today in France. Unfortunately, most of the time negotiation is a simple procedure. Calame's oeconomic territorial agency aims to re-centre the project around negotiation complex processes. As he teaches us in his essay, goods, activities and services do not need the same regulation, it is the weakness of huge urban development zones today, considering all of them at the same time in an inclusive approach. Our project built a reconfigurable arena, support of negotiation, fertile ground of new interactions.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
It is the first time we win this competition, we see it as a unique opportunity to keep thinking we could do our work with our convictions and improve the built environment. For almost three years, the four of us and some others colleagues are thinking to build a platform where we could form small working groups during the time of a project and bring the best of each one. In fact, it is what we are doing now with the site platform we just built up, ready to carry on the implementation of this project for Toulouse metropole in the best way, as others, if we are lucky enough!