Author(s): HODEBERT Laurent
Contributor: ENSA Marseille, Laboratoire INAMA

Peri-urban, the new suburbs

The [metropolitan] atlas, a tool for questioning the territory

Between 2010 and 2015, I took part in a teaching experience entitled “[metropolitan] atlas” initiated along with Jean-Michel Savignat and Alexandre Field in the Architecture-City-Territories department of the ENSA-Marseille. During that time, I questioned and worked on the territory that would become the Aix-Marseille-Provence[1] on 1 January 2016.

The key tool I built for this form of didactic research, of training to the eye and the project is none other than a cartographic and photographic atlas. This tool serves to explore the metropolitan territory where it is drawn using descriptive and questioning teams and to photograph it whilst encountering situations to “be” in the territory[2].

Suburbanization, ordinary qualities and essential questions

One of the strong thematics of this exploration work of this extremely rich and contrasted territory was the issue of suburbanization, of its inscription into an extraordinary geography, of its characteristics and ordinary qualities. During 5 years, with much benevolence, we looked at this specific territory of an ordinary city (which makes up the AMP metropolis) with our students, and studied the role of the suburbs in the 19th century, when they were a laboratory of a sprawling contemporary city that constitutes the resource of our projects and reflections.

In a first while, our commitment with the students consisted in drawing this suburban fabric to understand it better, in kindly looking at these active territories as resources to reveal a form that is not radio-centric but rather multi-polar and that glides into the large objects of the surrounding nature (seaside, great mountain ranges, Berre Lakes, etc.) along valleys and infrastructures. One of the aims of this task of knowledge and research production consisted in revealing the potential of this ordinary fabric to qualify its fringes and invent new polarities through the project.

[1] Hodebert L., Atlas [metropolitan] Exploration raisonnée du territoire de Marseille-Provence, works of the S8 Master seminar steered by Laurent Hodebert from 2011 to 2013, AVT department, ENSA Marseille, July 2013.

[2]  Hodebert L., “Explorer le territoire, la fabrique d’un atlas métropolitain”, Secrets de Fabriques, Matière Première/ENSAPVS editions, Paris, 2015, pp. 160-169, also see www.atlas-metropolitain.fr

Programme : atlas métropolitain