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Author(s): Cherif HANNA, Eric CHAUVIER
Contributor: ENSA Nantes

Architectural experience / Political recognition

The “Estuary 2029” studio project addresses issues concerning the current mutations of the architectural profession. We are assuming that students must adopt a solid posture to confront the new demands of the social world: suburban, peri-metropolitan, post-industrial territories, suburban life, environmentalism, participative democracy, temporary habitats, religious fact, etc.

Studio project “Estuary 2029” falls into the perspective of breathing back politics into the inhabitants’ lives by giving them back some control on their living conditions. Projects are no longer conceived as finished products but in a new relationship at the scale of citizens, like in a “conglomerate” (Lucien Kroll) the form of which stems from the integration of a social complexity that makes a place for interstices and counter uses. Architecture, urban planning and landscaping are then part of a tight play of alternations that must be questioned.

Studio project “Estuary 2039” is a pedagogical experience carried out in the Loire estuary, a “moving territory” given its “natural” history and that of the economic and social exchanges that progressively engulfed it. It is conceived as a laboratory to test and formalise responses allowing students to think their projects in a context. The competences of teachers from a wide range of disciplines (architecture and anthropology) are articulated around that of artists, researchers and actors-resources of the territories concerned. Tools are mobilised at different levels of the project and process: ethnographic survey, “mapping mechanisms” (inventing one’s own method of mapping allowing a projectual scope), collage, video, itinerary method (Jean Yves Petiteau), literary mechanisms (ideally allowing the students to “transform” their on-site experience in an architectural gesture) and public workshops.

For students, studio project “Estuary 2029” encompasses a professionalising dimension close to an intention of research-action. The recognition by each student of her/his capacity to create a method by problematizing one’s experience goes beyond the performance of an urban or architecture proposition. If the pedagogical experience plays the role of an initiatory journey on the professional ground, the relation to commission overthrows the pedagogical fiction that usually characterises the relation between teacher and learner. This pragmatic pedagogical intention conjugates the learning of the trade of the architect with in situ negotiation and experimentation.