Team Representative: Catherine Gascon (FR) – Architect
Contributor: Héloïse De Broissia (FR), Félicie Botton (FR), Asya Yilmaz Lemerle (FR), Karine Bergevi (FR) – Architects; Anaël Maulay (FR) – Urbanist
C.Gascon, H. De Broissia, F. Botton, A. Yilmaz Lemerle, K. Bergevi, & A. Maulay
1. How did you form the team for the competition?
The team gathered under Catherine Gascon’s impulse, who is associate at ILIMELGO practice. We had the desire to give us some time for a « design momentum » at a larger scale, beyond our day-to-day activity, and open-up a conversation less bound to our usual practice. As we wished to broaden our vision on a public space / landscape dialectic we called on Anael (Espace Libre) to help us enrich our thinking.
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 main issue is to restore the prerequisites for a dialogue between the inhabitants. In the past decades, Romainville’s southern neighborhoods have been split by the A186 highway ramps. Therefore we stay fully aware that local people, those who live there, are the main « resources » we need to put into relation in the aim of promoting emerging productive activities. Thus, we decided to reconnect the districts starting from Louis Aubin’s street towards the Impasse des Oseraies by designing a network of « communicating landscape stripes » based the old traces of historical agricultural parcels. Our purpose is to recreate an urban continuity made of low to medium density architectures merging productive activities yet to be envisioned together with the inhabitants. More than defined forms of architectures, our concern was to imagine a multiplicity of « interfaces » drawn on the vocabulary of the gardens, the streams and the alleys, the pathways and the squares in order to open up a dialogue between existing housings and artists studios, artists studios and public amenities, public amenities and production workshops, etc… contributing to the making of a « productive village » designed for and by the people.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
Most of our considerations originate from the site. Essentially we question the trace and the cut, the memory and the regeneration. This is the case of the old agricultural layout and of the topography as a result of the A186 dismantling, and also of the outstanding preexisting architectures wich, more than a collection of vestiges or landmarks, trully embody the identity of the site. Even though many issues are yet to be clarified - such as the ambiguity created by the buildind of the T1’s tramway line which connects but also divindes to a certain extent - we feel deeply concerned with the future of the site. Working on a large-scale physical model especially helped us to « incorporate » thoses issues. Restoring the dialogue remains a major issue today, maybe here more than elsewhere in Romainville, North and South of town seeming so much disconnected.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
Our practice’s theoretical thinking focuses for some years at ways of making cities more resilient, which is also very much connected to the issue of productive cities. In 2015 we won for instance a competition held by the city of Romainville aiming at designing a vertical urban farm (La Cité Maraichère) which is currently under construction. Our researches also led us requestionning business parcs pattern in the context of an idea competition named "Mantes-Innovaparc" which we won recently. Following these experiences, we decided to participate to Europan, also because of a particular attachement to the city of Romainville where we opened a second office and where Catherine has been living for a few years. Our thinking is feeded by many artistic and architectural influences (as the "Forest Building" designed by James Wines, or the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale’s Japanese pavilion « Extreme Nature » designed by Junya Ishigami), but also in researchers works on urban resilience (such as « La ville résiliente : comment la construire ? » from Isabelle Thomas and Antonio Da Cunha).
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?
Time issue ends up being even more concerning since the dismantling of A186, given the current state of desolation of the site. Enabling the inhabitants to quickly reclaim their land back seems to us a matter of urgency. L.A.B.S. sets up a time scale allowing a progressive reappropriation of the site : Step 1 : Renaturation of the preexisting topography. Step 2 : Setting up pathways based on old agricultural traces. Building of a removable modular structure: the « Guinguette », where public concertations could be acommodated. Step 3 : Protecting the site from the nuisances generated by A3 highway while taking advantage of its flow thanks to a logistic centre combined with an off-ground car-park along with a mixed use sports equipement. Step 4 : Conctruction of the first mixed-use premisses and collectivey-housing iniated by the public concertations.
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 all at once the first time we have been awarded a price and have been participating to Europan. It might allow us to push our thinking forward with the city and its inhabitants, which might prove very exciting. This price also encourages us to pursue our thinking and, hopefully, might give us a greater legitimity and visibility in the future.
Office: ILIMELGO ARCHITECTES
Functions: Architecture, urban planning, landscaping
Average age of the associates: 34 years old
Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? If yes, which ones?
Concours Lauréats :
ILIMELGO Cité Maraichère, Romainville Mantes Innovaparc, Mantes-la-Jolie (études en cours)
ESPACE LIBRE Rampe urbaine, Creil