Social Infrastructures

Saint-Omer (FR) – Special Mention


Team Representative: Clément Ringot (FR) – Architect; Associate: Maxime Beel (FR) - Architect

107 rue du prévôt, 1050 Buxelles (BE)
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C. Ringot & M. Beel


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

We met in Tournai, Belgium where we received our architectural education. Our shared interest for the large-scale led us to share the same studio, where we learned to collaborate. After graduating, we both went to work in Brussels, one of us in an architecture and urbanism office, the other in a landscape studio. This complementarity of formation was something we were seeking, and it prove to be a rewarding experience.

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?

The territory of Saint-Omer is defined by water. Water is both the main resource of the region as well as its main threat. Floods, violent climatic episodes and other consequences of global warming are threatening the ecosystem of the marshlands, as well as its biodiversity. Today, the municipalities spend a lot of energy to fix the damages, without handling the causes. The project aims at controlling the inflow of water upstream from the marshlands. It’s a retention infrastructure at the scale of the agglomeration. The retained water, after being filtered, enters a new vertuous circle where it can be used by the citizens for productive activities, as well as for leisure and biodiversity.

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

We were asked to work on different sites, scattered around the agglomeration of Saint-Omer, each with its own needs and specificities. Working at a larger scale, we saw that those sites could be part of a larger system of retention infrastructures. We see this underground infrastructure as a frame for reinforcing the exisiting landscapes, improving urban mobility and creating new spaces of sociability and productivity above ground. Those actions can take various forms, from leisure ponds to biking paths for instance, answering to the specific needs of each situation.

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

We had the opportunity to work on this question during the previous session of Europan, on the site of Platja de Palma. The experience we gained from it was important in the vision we developped for Saint-Omer. We are inspired by project that managed to take a technical problematic and turn it into so much more, for instance the project of Georges Descombes for the renaturation of the Aire river next to Geneva.

 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?

While the projet deals with the large scale, it is not a masterplan. It is a cohesive vision for the agglomeration, made of independant site-specific actions. The project can therefore be developped over a long process, depending on the needs and opportunities of each site.

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

We’ve been awarded during the previous session, on the site of Platja de Palma. Europan having a great visibility at European scale, it’s a great opportunity to communicate on our work. Let’s hope this visibility can bring good suprises on the way.



Functions: Architecture
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?

  • Europan 14 : A social Infrastructure - Platja de Palma, Spain - Special Mention
  • Competition for the development of Parc Buchholtz (3000 m2) - Bruxelles - Waiting for the results 
  • Conception and construction of a temporary artist pavillon - Mont des Arts, Bruxelles 
  • Rehabilitation of an industrial building into an art studio for Studio Gondo - Bruxelles