Rouen on the Move

Rouen (FR) – Runner-up


Team Representative: Francisco Pomares Pamplona (ES); Associates: Saimon Gomez Idiakez (ES), Irena Nowacka (PL), Johannes Pilz (AT) – architects
Contributors: Filippo Fanciotti (IT), Nicolas Lee (CA), Hugo Maffre (FR), Jonathan Schuster (DE) –students in architecture

Bluefoamit - Hugo Maffre, 6 rue des Haudriettes, 75003 Paris – France
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J. Schuster, N. Lee, S. Gomez Idiakez, F. Fanciotti, H. Maffre, J. Pilz, F. Pomares Pamplona and I. Nowacka



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

Bluefoamit was born out of a fortunate encounter between 8 young architects and architecture students with similar mindsets who ended up working in Rotterdam at the beginning of the year 2013. At that point we were all interns in MVRDV. Inquisitive to develop our own projects aside, we decided to join Europan and experience the challenge of collaborating with such a big and diverse team upon a topic that immediately attracted our attention.


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 chose the motto “On the move” as a statement for our main issue with a double-sided ambition. On one hand referring to the demands of a topic related to adaptability, movement and evolution; on the other, depicting a necessary attitude upon a global critical situation. In Rouen, as well as on the other two sites we participated (Schiedam and Wien-Siemensäcker), the answer to such ambitions started off by looking in depth at the positive and negative aspects that defined it. We therefore developed 3 generic tools (“Cloud”, “Prototypologies” and “Rules”), which needed to be applicable to any specific condition as well as adaptable to time: this year’s main concept. Our proposal suggests functions that move along a constantly adapting structure. We turn the negative aspects of the site into positive assets, integrating all parts to allow urban flows, fixing broken bonds and creating new links between the disconnected areas to promote new urban rhythms.


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

The specific conditions of the site in Rouen demanded connectivity and growth. The analytical tool that we apply (The Cloud) immediately depicted this need, consequently suggesting growth around the main nodules like the Saint-Sever Station or the core of the Lacroix Island and the transversal axes that link them. Other positive features of the site and its almost intuitive structure led to a build-up of typologies in longitudinal strips. When a first phase has already been developed, the main issue of adaptability upon shifting conditions begins to gain importance, thereby requesting our building tools (Prototypologies and Rules) to be capable of absorbing new functions whilst preserving the resilient nature of the city and its potentiality to keep healthy and active.


4. Have you already treated this issue previously and could you present some reference projects that inspired yours?

Most members of our team have already been working on rapid density growth throughout their masters and theses, investigating upon systems and structures that allow mixed use and flexibility. Nevertheless, for this project, we faced new challenges when trying to develop a process that involved a solid ideology never detached from social, economical and even philosophical and political issues. We started looking at the concept of “Thermodynamics” and its applications to social sciences and architecture through the interpretations of authors like Iñaki Ábalos or Luis F. Galiano. Such line of research gave us a clear understanding of how processes take place within complex societies. The idea of Entropy, very prominent in our proposal, brought us to reflect upon how to regulate a chaotic system while allowing free will and free movement within. In terms of architectural tools, urban systems and spatial appropriation we also took as a reference projects like “The Vertical Village” by MVRDV –on which some of us worked before– as well as some of the works by Archigram and Superstudio.


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?

Very soon in the explanation of our project we announce the idea that master-planning nowadays is very much rooted upon rigid and static methodologies, which make it very difficult for the citizens, the architecture and therefore the whole structure, to adapt to the relatively new consciousness that came along with the concept of “Sustainability”. We believe that Sustainability is an attitude and a Crisis it’s most adequate environment to see it enhanced. The pursuit of efficiency will vary as knowledge grows and techniques adapt, therefore we cannot plan more than just a generic strategy that will allow future inputs and modifications according to the new times that are to come. Our project provides: a tool that analyses change (“Cloud”), construction methods based upon prototypes that adapt to circumstances (“PT”) and parameters that are subject to yearly referendums (“Rules”). All of these have been designed to minimize the negative impact of unsuccessful urban moves that revert in economic damage and energy waste. On the other hand, they intend to provide a healthy environmental approach based on a collaborative pact between technology and behaviour.


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

Our first Europan prize is a great way to start to see ourselves embedded in the real architectural world by our own means. We intend to use this opportunity as a springboard to present our capabilities and efforts to any potential professional that may value our work and may wish to contact us. We are very happy to receive this recognition and we hope for the best of all teams who, like us, have put all their will in the cause of promoting a change.