Huy (BE) - Runner up


Team Representative: Fabrice Rossi (BE) – architect
Associate: Elisa Baldin (IT) – architect
Contributors: Henri Garcia Architecture Office

Rue Warfiusée 111,4470 Saint-Georges-sur-Meuse (BE) 
+32 496 03 87 46 / +32 42 75 32 08 – fr@hgarcia.be – hgarcia.be

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F. Rossi & E. Baldin  


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

The team was formed by a convergence of interests concerning the themes of the urban project and the redevelopment of industrial sites. In addition, the complementarity of approaches between the experience of our professional careers, based on research, seemed productive for the development of the project.

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?

The questioning comes from the observation of the loss of meaning of the ancient industrial site and the lack of relationship with the urban organism. Therefore the idea was to re-establish its identity starting from recovering its morphological and historical landscape but also its urban relationships with the town. Several themes, emerged from the territorial analysis imposed has basic topics of the project: the importance of Hoyoux at the historical and landscape level, the sequence of public spaces crossing the city, the differentiation of the built fabric, the industrial heritage, the issue of mobility in town. The concept of a productive city is then reinterpreted as a revelation of the characters of the place by the urban project, where the productivity of the site is based on a new interaction with the re-discovered elements. From this perspective, the design strategy aims at keeping the productive function of the site and integrating it with the cultural, ecological and social dimensions in the configuration of the urban space. The reopening of a branch of the watercourse represents at the same time an enhancement of this landscape matrix and also the possibility of using water as an energy source for future equipment in the St. Catherine district. The former Thiry factory including a laboratory, a farm and a covered market, is intended both as a socialization space and a productive site.



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

The study of the site refers to a general questioning about the city with an industrial past. Indeed, in Huy, as in most cities in the Mosan region, the advent of the factories contributed to the development and prosperity of the urban system, generating built-up fabrics and spatial configurations as expressions of a culture linked to techniques and know-how attached to industrial production. However, these exploitation activities, which have become unsuitable and polluting, fuel the debate about the future of productive spaces and their relations with the city.

From this observation, we wondered about the re-definition of the concept of production in a contemporary city and the activities that must be re-born. Our idea is therefore to promote the site as a pole of transformation, by substituting the mono-sectoral production with a multiplicity of activities that respond to the changes of the contemporary city according to a sustainable perspective. Recycling (activation of new life cycles) is proposed as the basic principle of the productive city, where urban dynamics (production, housing, training, health, leisure, mobility) are part of a logic of rediscovery and enhancement of the territory, intended as the common good of the community. The various activities find place and meaning in accordance with the identity elements of the site in order to restore the well-being of people including the collective and the individual interest, in the short and long term.

"TAKING CARE" synthesizes a generative strategy of an urban health (health of the territory and of the community). This concept expresses in a circuit that would allow everyone to be the producer of mutual well-being. Through the characteristics of the city identified and treated in our project, the concept "TAKING CARE" will develop on the main themes to bring ecology and social relations as levers for a new quality of life in the city.


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

In our investigations we have always sought to go beyond the purely aesthetic dimension of the architectural or urban project. The design of a place comes from the reading of morphology and history, urbanization and landscape. These are considerations that are part of our professional practice and specific research that affect the reflection of the re-functionalization of a site. The opportunity of this competition allowed us to highlight our projectual reflection on a site that knew all the problematic dimensions of a post-industrial territory.
Fabrice, as part of his professional activity, is involved in various architectural projects where he exercises a project approach that is based on reflection at the urban and landscape scale as a preliminary and significant element of the architectural project.
Elisa, as part of her doctoral research, studies the landscape approach in the regeneration strategies of abandoned industrial sites and the possibilities of spatial reconfiguration given by phytoremediation techniques. The state of the art concerning the recovery of industrial site conversion is very broad.
We mainly studied examples that follow a landscape approach oriented to the reinterpretation of the industrial heritage and the reactivation of the ecological and cultural dynamics in the new spatial configuration.

Houten Park, Turenscape, Shanghai (CN), 2010

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?

A scope project as desired at Huy requires working at all levels of the actors, from individuals to collectives, because they will make it possible to establish a project with maximum constraints and thus create a prolific synergy to the project.
Prior to the development of the project we documented through the reading of various articles, interviews and site visits to immerse ourselves in the citizen's point of view and identify the various factors that make up the daily life of Huy. We have studied at different scales the characters of the site through an iconographic, a cartographic readings in order to identify the factors and dynamics of territorial transformation and elements of permanence.
We focused on the requirements of the municipality proposed by the Europan competition, in order to find an innovative strategy based on the potential of the site at the urban, landscape and social level. The hypothesis of recovery of the Thiry site is based on a preliminary reflection concerning its depollution.
The orientation towards soft depollution reclamation (bio-remediation and phyto-remediation) is based on the will to treat the polluted soil and water as new raw materials to be treated in situ. This choice would strengthen the image of the site as a testing laboratory for depollution (soil recycling), attracting the interest of a multiplicity of actors, including researchers from the University of Liège who could find synergy with the Huy School of Horticulture, as well as companies working in new biobased production sectors. A soil analysis could optimize one of the project choices.
According to the logic of reuse, we wanted at the same time to keep a memory of the industrial past, through the conservation of a part of the existing building, but also to give a flexible tool of public interest. The green House would allow laboratories to process and analyse samples of water and soil on site, to treat waste in recycling, to produce food from the composting of the site and to sell it all in a didactic environment. The hydrological study and the development of the Hoyoux complied the ecological solutions. These interventions would be part of a global urban and landscape design. The choice of location of a high density of housing meets a demand of the city. The morphological analysis, the characteristics of the soil and its orientation the place led us to decide to locate the housing program in the southern part of the area. The idea is to densify in continuity with the existing fabric thus releasing Thiry Island for activities of public interest.
A building dedicated to wellness and sports has also been designed at the edge of the site, strengthening the activity of the hospital with which an affiliation could be found. Finally we studied a new mobility system in order to enhance the new south city entrance and to reduce the city traffic. We proposed the realisation of an inter-modal car parking and a new slow mobility network. Another ambition of the project would be to promote a light railway line linking the parking to the station.

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

This is the first time we have been awarded. We hope to meet some experts in this field and to have their feedback. And, who knows… maybe concretizing "TAKING CARE".