Boulevard de la Mer

Saint-Brieuc (FR) - Winner


Team Representative: Cyril Breton (FR) – architect; Associates: Pierre-Olivier Carpentier (FR) – architect; Maxime Genévrier – engineer urban planner

Studio ITA / MG|URBA, Paris – France –

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M. Genévrier, C. Breton & P.-O. Carpentier


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1. How did you form the team for the competition?

We [C. Breton & P.-O. Carpentier] have known each other since 2004 since our studies at the Rouen School of Architecture (ENSAN). At the end of 2013, after several years of collaborations in architecture and urban planning agencies, we founded the Studio ITA. It was during one of these collaborations that we met Maxime Genévrier, engineer and urban planner, who has since created the MG|URBA agency, specializing in land mutability issues. Our two structures regularly collaborate on missions of urban project management and open competitions as Europan.

2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: Adaptability through Self-Organization, Sharing and/or Project (Process)?

Saint-Brieuc gave its name to a bay. It is a seaside city, which over the years has developed without the bay. The cross-disciplinary ambition of our proposal is therefore to realign Saint-Brieuc towards the sea. To make sense, the project devises an evolutionary strategy that establishes links between the old centre and the edges of the bay, between the university and the port. This matrix follows the contours of a neglected rail infrastructure to stage shared projects, the gradual opening of cheaper industrial enclaves, the installation of new programs that build upon innovative initiatives already effective in the agglomeration or even located clean-up process.


3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?

The aim was to do the splits between the territorial issue –which clearly expounds the difficulty of this city to combine itself around the landscaped heritage of the seaside– and the immediate land/fundamental opportunity for two "operational" sites. In order to contribute to our ideas and discussions on changing the city centre and the Légué wastelands on a short-term basis, it was first necessary to dwell on a large territory with a fragmented, steep and winding landscape. The intermediate scales, the observed recurrences, the topography, as well as the history of places have mainly guided our thinking.
It is through this work that we brought out some intervention tools in a particular context, reflecting on varied yet complementary subjects (future of heritage, travel modes between valleys, need to value the dilapidated city centre, to think about the modularity of surfaces to build, to locate the clean-up process, etc.). These tools are good ingredients that allow formalising the contours of the "Seaside Boulevard" and the precise design of the interventions proposed for both sites.


4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?

We participated in both previous Europan – E12 on the Couvet site in Switzerland and E11 in Savenay, France. Although the issues were similar, the application methods and mutation strategies were totally specific. The development of multifaceted strategies is the heart of our professional activity, both architecturally and urban.


5. Today –at the era of economic crisis and sustainability– the urban-architectural project should reconsider its production method in time; how did you integrate this issue in your project?

The "Seaside Boulevard" is a matrix, a support to innovative projects. The tools therefore define both strong themes and means of action. In other words, as any tool, they can be combined, added and/or temporarily and locally used.
The higher Légué site, for instance, consists of wastelands closed by a wall and ideally located between the city and the harbour. We believe that this plot is one of the keys to the future of the Saint-Brieuc harbour. There is, therefore, no rush to its intensive urbanization. If it is aimed to becoming public, it is a site that must first be accessible to be known by the residents. The slabs of older factories can be reused as supports for temporary activities, the wall can be preserved in the idea that tomorrow some buildings will thicken it while maintaining a park in the heart of the plot. The project is built over opportunities on the basis of what is already in place. Beyond questions of economic crisis and sustainable development, our thoughts are focused on the fair distribution of resources and on the sustainable balance of territories.

6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?

We were preselected for both previous editions, but this is the first time we have been winners. Europan is a tremendous opportunity to compare our ideas with complex terrain and sharpen our ability through ambitious themes. It is an approach that seems necessary to feed our young practitioners reflections and become more seasoned, more relevant in our daily work. We therefore expect this project to take shape by the residents and elected members so that the reflections initiated by the competition allow the reasoned development of this territory.