Team Representative: Yvan Okotnikoff (FR) – architect; Associates: Aurelien Delchet (FR) – architect; Thibault Barbier (FR), Mathieu Delorme (FR) – landscape engineers - urban planners; Thomas Nouaillier (FR) – architect urbanist
Collectif Georges, 15 bd de Picpus, 75012 Paris – France
firstname.lastname@example.org – www.ateliergeorges.fr
collectif Georges : A. Delchet, T. Nouailler, T. Barbier, M. Delorme and Y. Okotnikoff
1. How did you form the team for the competition?
There is first the pleasure of working together and the desire to share various experiences of “building” the territory –in the broadest sense of the word.
Traditional project contractors, urban project management, strategic or prospective studies, project management support, teaching, research... the collective Georges is a tool that allows the extension of additional trajectories, their sharing and their synthesis.
2. How do you define the main issue of your project, insisting on how you answered on this session main topic: adaptability and urban rhythms?
We start from a simple observation that others have made before us: the city goes far beyond its designers.
The real urban quality depends as much on the appropriation by its inhabitants as on its initial design. It is not determined but it refines itself day to day and is constantly regulated.
We of course consider the important role of designers, but we believe that we must remain attentive and not confuse the path with the goal.
We started from this reflection to propose –for the site of Saclay– to think the development not as a goal but as a particular moment when ongoing negotiations between the different actors of the territory is defined.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
The definition of this negotiations frame is a response to the complexity of acting (governance, political tensions, conflicts between local and national interests), to programmatic and financial hazards of the cluster project (Grand Paris Express, “Plan – campus”, government arbitrations, private investors...) and to environmental issues (Flood Risk Prevention Plan, Protected Natural Site, Sensitive Natural Zone...)
It is built on a whole embodied by five projects, five platforms that are used for:
- Adjustments between the metropolitan vocation of the site and its daily life;
- Convergence between natural dynamics (the Yvette river and the resurgence of the plateau, the outstanding ecosystems, the micro-topography...) and urban dynamics (the town centre project expanded in a valley, the university programs on the hillside, experiments on the plateau...);
- Propose a set of principles so that this fragment of a metropolis acquires and maintains a kind of plasticity, that it remains adaptable "in its flesh".
4. Have you already treated this issue previously and could you present some reference projects that inspired yours?
The Collective Georges –associated to Atelier Laetitia Lafont– is currently in charge of the master plan development for the Savenay train station area, in France. The project aims at organizing the transfer of an industrial area into a predominantly residential quarter.
The project identifies and reveals an archipelago of "inhabited islands" investigating for new alliances, new forms of cohabitation with the natural environment of the valley. A new landscape emerges reinterpreting the wooded landscape (“bocage”) and the hydraulic structure of the Loire estuary.
Like the platforms in Saclay, each island has a core that initiates the creation of a district (land available and identified project launcher) and a flexible programming edge, able to adapt to changing expectations from politics and inhabitants. Island by island, the neighbourhood can be defined in a coherent and flexible manner.
In addition, we have followed with the utmost attention the experiments that allow questioning the method and planning tools. These include:
- On negotiation: the “Atelier National” Workshop approach, supported by the French Ministry of Territorial Equality and Housing (“Ministère de l'Égalité des Territoires et du Logement”) to explore new ways to the project and partnerships on complex and large territories;
- On the convergence between natural and urban dynamics: Stig L. Andersson’s (SLA) recent works, looking for a way to make the natural and urban rhythms coexists in the same set;
- On urban and housing plasticity: the ecodistricts of Buis, Méasolle and Cintenat in Ardèche (FR), based on bioclimatic buildings made from local materials, inexpensive and implementing vernacular expertise, or Hunziker Areal supported by “mehr als wohnen” in Zürich (CH) in a more urban context.
5. Today –within the era of an economic crisis and sustainability– the urban-architectural project should reconsider its production method in time; how did you integrate this issue in your project?
Saclay’s current situation calls for progressive and reversible amenities, in a way that is fairly independent from the economical situation or environmental issues.
The project should indeed be able to enrol in today’s reality but also in the field of the Paris-Saclay cluster of tomorrow.
Between these two requirements, no one can know for sure where the cursor will finally be or how fast the cluster will grow.
Let us take the example of mobility, which lies at the centre of our proposal. At first, travels are run along a pedestrian axis and a North/South cycle: the shortest path to connect the city and the plateau. Depending on the evolution of the platforms as plateau or town centre projects this axis could potentially evolve into a "heavier" transport way (cable car type) and/or be completed by a system of secondary service (bus or tram).
The plan allows the transport scheme to evolve closer to the site’s needs, but also to the project evolution and each of the platforms.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
We had the chance to participate to several winning projects, including "Mesures Ligériennes" (Europan 11) without which we would not have been selected for the project in Savenay mentioned above. For us, Europan primarily remains a way to access projects in a difficult environment, but it is also a great time of working and exchanging that drives our daily activities.