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Author(s): Béatrice MARIOLLE
Contributor: ENSA Belleville

Going to the front with young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods

“The new avant-garde of social movements will radically remodel our cities and buildings (…) no one in the world of architecture is ready for this. The question of a practical use of spatial justice (…) remains the key question of architecture and urban planning. The issue is a social one because the rest fails: financial crisis, limitations to the economic growth model and financialisation.” (Saskia Sassen_2014)

Committed architects on the front line drawn by all popular areas

Today, social urgency and democratic crisis question the role of the architect. More than a designer of space, the architect plays the role of a catalyst of the players of the territory. The project becomes a negotiating platform and imposes itself in these metropolitan popular areas that neglected by architecture: rural territories, large community social projects, suburban housing projects.

These ordinary situations await transformations. They prove an opportunity to question the elements of architecture, to think the post-Paris ecological revolution, to develop tactile projects (in a homage to De Certeau) that transform the daily lives of the million individuals who inhabit these areas.

We are interested in small projects, in “small acts” (ref. K. Lynch, Fran Tonkis, Saskia Sassen) that are so many occasions for community innovations: shelters, wasteland, a stairwell, a passage… represent so many projects to repair everyday places. These micro interventions become the starting point for territorial projects, for network constructions, for the development of an ecological, economic and social thought.

Young people come together to produce scenarios of the future

Young people (students + young architects + young people from 15 to 25 from deprived neighbourhoods) invent tools for fabricating the project and lay the bases of the ecological transformation of the neighbourhoods. Together, they are the future actors of tomorrow’s city. Their projects are both playful and useful: producing energy with music boxes, transforming the noise of the city into electricity, recuperating rainwater of all sterile roofs to create water games and vegetable gardens for young people… together, they criss-cross the metropolis with a multitude of renewed resources.