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Author(s): Misia Forlen, Juliette Hennequin, Rachel Jozefowicz et Pascale Joffroy
Contributor: Système B et EAVT Marne-la-Vallée

Shanty towns, new riches

Tassociation, Système B, drives a set of reflections and actions focused on the shanty towns near the School of Architecture of Marne-la-Vallée, where nearly 600 residents attempt to find a connection between two evictions.

Various areas of action that started from relations among the residents, students, instructors, and local associations were established as tactics on the border between the unplanned and the institutional to engage other futures: work “caught in the middle” between porous borders, based on the land. The action is collective and political. It involves both acting to improve the living conditions of the residents and working to change impressions about the shanty town to help people understand its social role. Thus, viewing the shanty town positively, thinking of it as a carrier of wealth and resources, could help overturn certainties and situations to break the maddening and illusory cycle of its destruction.

The working assumptions adopted are not Utopic but prospective fields intended to open up new possibilities. Building trust among the residents of the shanty-towns is the first assumption. This means a strong sense of respect for the dream they are building with other immigrants, poor, and others lacking security before them: so that insecure housing is not just a place for survival, but an opening and springboard to work and common law housing. It is now up to us to question the unsuitability of urban planning and housing policies for these dynamics, and to react by imposing the necessity and strength of shelter; to resist the absolutism of the modernising urges of new construction, of norms and standards to change views of the “unworthy”; to act in the context of new project production and perhaps new governance. This present day need suggests rethinking the city of the temporary, of frugality, non-conformism, re-use, and the fragile: the city as a process of becoming, and not just the establishment.

Function : Making life easier with shanky towns