Team Representative: Camille Cochet (FR) – architect
Associates: Clément Boitel (FR), Florent Girelli (FR) – architects
C. Boitel, C. Cochet & F. Girelli
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1. How did you form the team for the competition?
During our studies, we shared some common friends between the schools of Paris - Belleville and Paris - La Villette without knowing it. Our good friend and colleague Alexandra : a fellow, an office mate and Camille's girlfriend is the center of it. Then we eventually moved the same year in Geneva to start or continue our career in our respective positions. That is how we started to socialize and share our love for life and architecture. The idea of participating in a competition together seemed natural, but it was confirmed when Camille told us that he had registered - without telling us!
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?
About territorial scale, we believe in the history and legacy of the soil as an element of urban and landscape anchoring. The question that could sum our proposal would be: How to offer back to Kriens its industrial enclave, founder of city’s modern era ?
On the other hand, the question of the « lieu » must be solved - in adequate measure - with this notion of pre-existing substratum, like its DNA. If, as given in the program here, the aim is to establish housing and equipment as a regeneration force (through private shareholding), the challenge is to structure them around shared and / or public spaces - often absent from industrial areas. This is what we set using old railway layouts existing on site to contour public or private areas. This can be summed up in the creation of a land register.
Architecturally, despite our universitarian backgrounds, we did not want to present a framing picture of the proposal. That's why we only produced a few suggestive views in our rendering. It is a communication work that illustrates an alternative. Indeed, we try to remain lucid about the scope of our proposal and its real potential for action. Here, we elaborate the mode of urban appropriation of a zone of private property by a public institution, the commune of Kriens. It is through this integration scheme that we are thinking of setting up a perennial project. It is about defining the conditions of a phasing that goes from the private factory enclave towards the varied public space as prefiguration of a new land register where new landowners or new productive activities would take place - in the dedicated zones.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
In terms of method, we set the design as the synthetical answer. And that the problem must synthesize the questions posed by the site and the program in order to define the conditions of the chosen urban mutation. If we consider the response as the project process, then it must relieve the whole bundle of questions or intentions. In our proposal clearly appears a notion that we can consider as fragile which is identity. It seems even more fragile in Kriens that this place is unknown, closed and therefore inaccessible to the inhabitants - future users of the renewed area. In this case, a strict and rigorous inventory and archeology of the place becomes a strong drawing base linking site and question by the project : the past and the future of the space to be treated.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
Whether at the office or at school, we all had our own experiences to figure out this type of urban morphing issues. This is also one of the seductive points about this competiton. As a student, Florent worked most of his master and diploma on this type of spatial situation - either enclave or border. Professionaly speaking, Clément had the opportunity to speak several times during competitions on these topics. Camille, meanwhile, enjoys an important urban and historical culture gleaned during these years of university training or self-taught - either in the studio or traveling.
We took advantage of the context inherent in the form of the open Europan competition to engage a theoretical dialogue about Kriens. Then, to put into practice a certain number of notions and tools which seemed to us operational within the framework of this project of reappropriation on the urban scale.
In terms of references, strong visions such as those of Alexandre Chemetoff (1950-) and Jean-Louis Berthomieu (1953-) on the Island of Nantes (1999) are clearly part of our common culture. This comprehensive inventory of the site embodies the desire to anchor in the strength of identity. It gives meaning and time to the process of urban reconquest of the area concerned. However, as a group of friends, we like to exchange beyond Architecture.
Thus in painting, about public space and landscape, the XVII and XVIII centuries - from the Flemish school to Vedutism - we find a timeless heritage. Works by Jacob van Ruisdael (1628-1682), Pietro de Hooch (1629-1684 / 94) Music reception in a courtyard (1677), Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), or Canaletto (1697-1768) can be rediscovered unceasingly and are a infinite source of inspiration.
On the theme of reminiscence or trace, one can also refer to more contemporary works. We can highlight Martino Pedrozzi (1971-): Recompositions Val Malvaglia (2000) in Ticino, Switzerland. It is a work as meticulous as respectful of the vernacular, on the border between land art, sculpture and patrimonial architecture. This consists of rearranging ruins of fallen stone shelters in their original perimeter. This reconstruction protects the landscape by restoring templates as points of reference on the territory, by restoring the public space of this place. All these references bring us together and are part of our common imaginarium. Whether they are at first glance close or far from the subject, what counts for us is that they have endless interpretations. It is their iconographic character that makes them permanent.
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?
The consulative - and possibly participative - aspect of our project is illustrated by a grid of criterias of intentions and spatial principles. These are ingredients that guarantee the quality of future places. However, they do not formalize them. They are there to be used as a toolbox by the actors during the process that will see the City of Kriens turned towards its future. It was our goal. To propose a support capable of withstanding the time and manufacturing process of this urban renewal.
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 delighted to have been awarded, especially since this is indeed the first time as a team, but Clement was awarded at the EUROPAN 12th edition - on the Ciney site in Belgium. However, we remain very busy in our current professional lives. We made contact with local actors to imagine a possible continuation. At the time of writing, we are waiting for their response, hoping to know a concrete follow-up to our proposal.