Author(s): Vincent DUCATEZ et Ghislain HIS
Contributor: ENSAP Lille

The 2030 House

What role will the architect have in resolving lowly social and economic questions associated with the massive thermal improvement of old housing, the energy transition and insecurity, a project that architects currently do very little to address?

– How should professional practices be changed to better assist and improve levels of expertise and proposals: custom responses or renovations that can be generalised?

– How to assist with the appearance of new uses: self-construction sites, collective gardening, skill sharing, resident pooling, generational or environmental solidarity, etc.?

– What are the urban planning or landscape architectural questions raised by these cultural changes to ways of life concerning the management of water, household waste, public lighting, use and appropriation of public space, etc.?

– How should architects be trained to promote collaborative practices with other stakeholders, outside of their habitual areas of expertise?

– How to capitalise, starting in school and then after (academic, institutional, and economic partnerships), on the theoretical and practical knowledge gained from student projects by considering teaching as the production of knowledge and not as a transfer of existing knowledge?

– What is the role of technique and the related standards, rules, and labels, which must never cause the initial objective to be lost from sight: to qualitatively improve the lives of the residents? How can the environmental transition be a pretext for poetry?

– How can the conservation of heritage and its decorative aspects be a source for innovation?

– How to implement an educational process shared with others: the empiricism of the back and forth between a full scale demonstrator and digital models to create and test hypotheses?

This educational program attempts to respond to all these questions by investigating the question of the materiality of architecture, whether in terms of built culture, or the more invisible question of comfort (heat, light, air quality, acoustics, etc.). It starts from the observation that the aesthetic demonstration of new buildings is no longer the priority challenge of architecture, and that the mass renovation of existing housing, in particular concerning energy savings, is of major contemporary relevance. This analysis is part of the observation made in the 1980s by K. Frampton, among others, of the absolute necessity for architects to address constructive dimensions broadly (from politics to poetics) rather than participating in the spectacle.

His object of study was the “1930s” house, actually built between 1850 and 1950, a very widespread type throughout Northern Europe: strips of land with a single shared bearing wall between houses of 2 or 3 levels, built of brick, of a standard width between 4 and 6 m, which is to say the maximum load-bearing capacity of a beam. They are the base unit of the neighbourhood, as such, a pragmatic ancestral response to the necessities of economy, time scale, and the urban planning of a street or even an early climate response. This educational program is involved in the concerns of the Nord-Pas de Calais Regional Government, in particular focused on the “Third Industrial Revolution”, according to the expression popularised by Jeremy Rifkin, in that it addresses architecture: the redefinition of trades, of the economy (including the production, transformation, and distribution of materials and equipment), citizen relationships, and implementation.

Programme : Examine the question of materiality