Le Faubourg du réemploi

Marseille (FR) - Runner-up


Team Representative: Asimina Mavromatidi (FR) – architect; Associates: Ion Maleas (GR), Margaux Tissot (FR), Martin Ravel (FR) – architects; Matthieu Bloch (FR) – urbanist; Valentine Gilbert (FR) – landscaper

DEMO – Marseille (FR)
+33 6 24 45 85 90 - democollectif@gmail.com – democollectif.com

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V. Gilbert, M. Bloch, A. Mavromatidi, I. Maleas, M. Tissot & M. Ravel

VIDEO (by the team)


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

DEMO was formed around the opportunity offered by Europan to work on our daily territory: the city of Marseille. Asimina Mavromatidi, Ion Maleas, Martin Ravel and Margaux Tissot are practicing architects and researchers in the city, and met there nearly two years ago. From our friendship, and the complementarity of our experiences, between Athens, Paris and the south of France, the desire was born to reflect together on the future of our adopted city.
Confronted to the wealth of the neighbourhood of La Cabucelle, and the questions that were posed, the necessity to reinforce the team with other disciplines appeared as essential to us. Thus, Valentine Gilbert, a landscape architect of the territory of Marseille, and Matthieu Bloch, an experienced urbanist of Plaine Commune (Saint-Denis, Paris) joined DEMO and offered their precious contributions to our subject.

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?

Le Faubourg du réemploi is a project that seeks to valorise the existing in order to turn the working-class neighbourhood of La Cabucelle towards an ecologically sustainable future. Between the abandoned sites of an old industrial world and the building blocks of the urban regeneration project Euroméditerranée, which symbolise a new world of a global urban economy, we believe it is pertinent to find an alternative proposition based on and preserving the active role of the working classes represented in the neighbourhood.
In an effort to achieve this goal, we propose mobilising the leverage effect of the project Euroméditerrannnée 2. The tabula rasa approach announced for the neighbouring area of Crottes Bougainville will be the origin of tons of waste of building materials, that could be reused. In order to accompany the creation of a new industry around upcycling building materials, the progressive reinforcement of a network of artisanal properties and businesses is envisioned. The objective is to frame the economic transition of the neighbourhood through an offer of a diversity of facilities capable of responding to the various needs of the emerging upcycling sector.
La Cabucelle becomes a productive city through the establishment of a circular economy of upcycling building materials through a slow, evolutive and inclusive urbanism focused on experimentation, education and communication of upcycling potentials, and the reinforcement of awareness concerning the environmental impact of the building sector.


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

La Cabucelle is a neighbourhood that contains numerous activities, notably in the car-repairing sector. A symbol of the post-WWII urban and economic development, the automobile constitutes an obstacle to the ecological transition of a city, as much as that of a convivial city. However, car-repair constitutes an existing working-class economic sector, and one that works with the existing. Our project therefore seeks to support the decline in activity in this area, by maintaining a philosophy similar to this economic sector. This is done by developing a circular economy of upcycling construction debris, an activity that makes it possible to repair the city without wasting its materiality.
In addition, La Cabucelle constitutes an area targeted by a “new national program of urban renewal” (NPNRU). This program, rarely seen on this type of urban fabric, should in our opinion strengthen the identity of the neighbourhood by pedestrianizing and revegetating its core, moving away from road transport, dedicating itself to activities related to reuse. This would be a delicate and small-scale project approach in contrast to the NPNRU projects that for the most part have sought to open-up the large social housing estates in which they intervene, seeking to break the image of such districts by demolition / (re)construction operations.


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

Various members of the DEMO collective, in different disciplines, have developed the question of reuse of building materials in their professional practice. In particular: Matthieu Bloch within the EPT Plaine Commune actively participates in the implementation of an “Urban Metabolism” approach by bringing together construction companies and the sector producing waste to be reused. Margaux Tissot began her professional career with Atelier d'Architecture Autogéré, in Paris, which introduced her to the principles of upcycling. Ion Maleas, within the framework of his PhD research concerning the financialization of urban space and the right to housing, teaches at the ENSA Marseille with Jean Marc Huygen around sustainable architectural and urban production, where upcycling plays a central role.
Drawing from these experiences, when DEMO came together to reflect on La Cabucelle, many references came to mind. A driving inspiration for our project concerned a collaborative approach to building, mobilising capabilities of locals: one of the first housing constructions of the Castor movement can be found at the heart of La Cabucelle, still standing at Boulevard Denis Papin 21. The Castor movement initially started after WW2 as an auto-construction cooperative, based on the principle of contribution-work: each participant contributes with their skills and the collective construction work comes to compensate the incapacity of individuals to finance the purchase or the commercial construction of their housing.
Other references concerned architecture that upcycles building materials as a sustainable approach to construction. Jean Marc Huygen’s work and teachings (at ENSA-Marseille) served as a great source of inspiration. Other examples include projects such as Resource Rows from Lendager Group. In København’s Ørestad district (DK) this project uses parts of brick walls from an abandoned brewery to construct the facades, reducing carbon consumption by 70%. For the same project the architects upcycle masses of waste concrete and surplus wood (produced during the expansion of the Copenhagen Metro) for the facades and flooring.
Another inspirational project is the Ningbo Historic Museum, in China, by Amateur Architecture Studio. The facades of the building served as a reference for our pedestrianisation proposal for the centre of La Cabucelle. The architect reused twenty different types of grey and red bricks and tiles from farmers homes that used to be in the area before the government decided to demolished them for the construction of the Museum. As they say: ‘a history museum should collect traces of time to face the past’.
Beyond the many branded references that could be cited, it is important to mention the essential inspiration coming from vernacular architecture and various traditional building techniques, as well as our belief in the collective intelligence of all actors involved in the construction of the urban.


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 have tried to render our project realistic socially as much as chronologically. Our proposal is largely based on the strengths of the existing networks at La Cabucelle. It is essential that the inhabitants of the district are fully integrated into the project to support its transformation. We were particularly interested in local know-how, both of people and their individual knowledge as much as of associations / structures, in order to enhance them and turn them into the driving force of La Cabucelle. Thus, the School of the Second Chance, La Maison des Apprentis and the Lycée Professionnel would be an integral part of the transformation of the neighbourhood, both supporting training programs and participating in the site constructions.
However, we understand that the creation of an artisanal property network and the establishment of an economic sector linked to upcycling will not happen overnight. This is why our project gradually develops the various brownfield sites available in the neighbourhood and progressively intervenes in the urban fabric. At the same time, we seize the important opportunity that the NPNRU offers with targeting this neighbourhood. Indeed, this creates a leverage effect by bringing the different urban players together over a pre-established period. In order to obtain the funds necessary for our urban program, we have adjusted the temporality of the project to that of the NPNRU.
Finally, DEMO is in contact with other actors from Marseille that could be engaged in the operation. Notably, R-Aedificare, architects specialized in the reuse of building materials, and the School of Architecture of Marseille (ENSA-M).

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

We are extremely happy and excited to have been awarded at Europan for the first time. For this project in particular, this distinction encourages us to carry our political and ecological commitments within the framework of our professional practice. Europan has also allowed some of us to have a first successful experience in urban design, in which Matthieu Bloch in particular wishes to specialize. We sincerely hope that winning this competition leads to concrete exchanges with the city of Marseille.
On that note, since we have learned our project was awarded, we took steps to concretize DEMO and formalize it juridically (first as an association). Furthermore, we are enthusiastic about the idea of DEMO evolving professionally and juridically, depending on the future engagements and opportunities related to Europan.



Office: DEMO
Functions: Architecture, Urbanism, Landscape
Average age of the associates: 29 years old

Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? If yes, which ones?

Matthieu Bloch, within the EPT Plaine Commune, actively participates in the implementation of an "Urban Metabolism" approach by connecting the construction industry and the sector producing waste to be reused. Plaine Commune is undergoing intense urban renewal, and this has permitted Matthieu to be engaged on various subjects such as the reuse of land from the Grand Paris Express or the positioning of a sorting platform supplying all the urban projects of the territory. In addition, he supports the revitalization of downtown Saint-Denis by pedestrianizing and vegetating public spaces, which then become appropriable by shops established by a municipal property company.
Asimina Mavromatidi and Margaux Tissot met at Kristell Filotico Architects, where they currently practice. Together, they collaborated on different projects of various scales and programs, a.o.:

- Azimut - Ilot Pelletan – Avenue Camille Pelletan, Porte d’Aix, Marseille / Kristell Filotico Architects – Margaux Tissot (projet manager): The competition launched by Euromed in 2019 on the Pelletan urban block, the last piece of the ZAC of Saint Charles, opened the discussion on the program by proposing to establish a "Third Place" there. In order to define the uses of an open building in the centre of Marseille, we consulted, as part of participation workshops, a number of local actors: students, residents, associations and professionals guided us to the needs and reality of the neighbourhood. From their testimonies a project was born that was sincerely open to the neighbourhood and dedicated to accompany the transformations that the district is already undergoing. In our group R-Aedificare were also associated and Éte SKOLA, respectively specialized in the reuse of materials and in the training and insertion of young talents with limited official degrees.
- Champ de Mai – Public square / parking at La Friche Belle de Mai, Marseille / Kristell Filotico Architects – Asimina Mavromatidi (project manager): The main idea of this project was to generate the largest and most appropriable public space possible. Thus, an inclined ground floor is proposed, which can be used for several cultural events, as well as a parking. The construction of the building is carried out on an occupied site (cultural centre, nursery, square in continuous activity). The team's landscape architects proposed a ground for the square from a patchwork of materials, partly recycled and found on-site.

Beyond these exemplary projects, the members of DEMO have worked together and individually on an array of pertinent projects and competitions. For example, Ion Maleas, through his PhD research, has organized participatory workshops and academic events including inhabitants, local municipalities, social housing bodies, citizen associations, and various other actors of the territory of Bouches-du-Rhône. Furthermore, Ion and Asimina were both part of a team that received special mention in the competition “Aix 2040: L’habitat du future” in 2018, for their project “2040 Utopies Pavillonnaires”.
As a landscape architect, Valentine Gilbert works in areas that are both accessible and inaccessible to humans. She makes this complexity a tool to build sustainable, democratic and collaborative solutions for the challenges of the 21st century. She worked on urban planning with the architects of Sixième Continent, Catherine Dieterlin and the ETC Collective respectively in neglected urban areas in Paris, Clermont Ferrand and Marseille and on a prefiguration space of a playground in Norway. Today, she works at CAUE 94, an organization of architectural, urban and environmental consultancy, in the south of the Paris region.