Bondy's Count

Bondy (FR) – Winner


Team Representative: Nicolas Barnavon (FR) – architect; Associates: Denis Brochard (FR), Loïc Daniel (FR), Jacques Ippoliti (FR), Marion Lacas (FR) – architects

Studio Diese – Atelier d’altérations urbaines, 37 Rue Bobillot 75013 Paris – France
+33 6 63 21 64 67 – –

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Studio Dièse


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

Since 2014, the Studio Dièse has engaged into reflexions and actions on inhabited territories. As a workspace and experimental laboratory, Studio Diese dedicated itself to exploration of new ways of making urban projects and its works ranges from urban studies to actions and installations in the city, also developing a research project on the re-playability of public space.

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)?

The characteristics of Bondy’s commercial area makes it impossible to think the evolution of the city through a total project so that a new way must be found. The rarefaction of free urban ground and the profitability of the “Route du Meuble” (“Furniture Street”) carries the project towards an specific transformation of the city on itself. How to open the commercial area to the city while maintaining the commercial activities? How to put in motion the transformation of the area while adding other ways of using and inhabiting it?
The project sets up tactics to start a mixed place of uses and forms. We want to develop typologies of commercial activities, using the attractiveness of the big brands already present, to progressively reduce and diversify the size of the shops and places, in order to arouse other uses than the car round trip.


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

The programmatic character of the area is not an obstacle to the opening towards the city. To ease crossings and walk-troughs, the project proposes 3 different strips – the Hard Strip facing the road, the Soft Strip boarding the canal and the Striptease showing the functional side of the shops.
Maintaining and increasing activities and functions requires working with the major brands already present in order to modify the uses of the plots towards a “grand magasin” system. The plot owners rent different sizes of multiple shops –corners– to gradually increase the types of activities, even non-commercial ones. Those actions could prefigure the variations and the transformations of the city at different scales in order to progressively change the uses and the perception of the place by the inhabitants and the workers.
The evolution is eased by the constructive nature of the storehouses. Their structure becomes the starting points of future additions. Their opaque skins progressively opens, letting places to events and unexpected elements, new occupations of time and space. The “decorated shed” becomes a “shed as décor”, settings for a possible neighbourhood.


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

In our recent projects, we tried to establish a contribution method where individual initiatives are superimposed and aggregated. This evolving practice allows us grasping the unexpected that makes the city through the multiplicity of points of view. The collective try to place its proposals in the in-between space of mediation and contradiction. Inhabiting and investing those tense moments, discussing them, telling them, appears to be fundamental to develop the public interest and the common future carried by architecture and city.
The position followed during the development of "Bondy'scount" echoes this statement by Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi:

"Our approach is one of not trying to be heroic, not being necessarily revolutionary. It was often appropriate to be heroic and revolutionary in the early days of modernism, but there are also moments when evolutionary change makes sense. That is why we love starting from what’s here, from the commercial vernacular of the American highway and such, from the ordinary and the conventional that can be relevant."
(Denise Scott Brown et Robert Venturi in “Relearning from Las Vegas”, interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rem Koolhaas, - The Harvard Design School, Guide to Shopping: Project on the City 2, Ed Taschen, 2001, 800 p.)


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?

We considered the process-project as a negotiation game where long-time investors, visitors and residents are the protagonists of this on-going game. It is on this new negotiation table that the initiatives are combined and shared. The game is open to developers, managers, freelancers, advertisers, owners, associations, etc.
By transforming this area into a playground, each parcel could become the theatre of a series of rounds, of actions independent from one another during time. By inciting smaller stores, by opening the range of actions to those who are neither building professional, nor site owners, it is the balance of the game that is adjusted. Since everyone is allowed to have a say, the games start without any knowledge about how they will end.

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 that our collective has run for Europan. This prize supports us to maintain a mixed approach that connects urban studies with territorial actions, linking those different scales of intervention that often ignore each other. Convinced by the necessity to expand the architectural field, the collective wants to open disciplines and action’s area to push them to their limits, to some unfamiliar ground.
For us, Europan is a way to confront thinking and actions and then discuss and share with other professionals and inhabitants that are engaged in the territory’s transformations.