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Author(s): Nathalie Lemarchand, Elisabeth Taudière
Contributor: Maison de l'Architecture de Normandie

The laboratory of territories

Since the early 2000, the city centres of great urban areas and mid-sized cities have shown a decrease in the population rate whilst suburbs boast a demographic boost. This territorial reality stimulated suburban and urbanization dynamics. This phenomenon continues today, even intensifying. Rural and urban territories are becoming increasingly composite both in form and architectures, uses, practices and inhabitants, forcing the latter to interrogate, rethink and re-imagine them. The appropriation of rural or urban areas by those who live in them goes through a rediscovery of locations, the existing heritage, the landscape and must come with an awareness of their responsibility towards the territories that they occupy, mold, cultivate…

Based on this observation, new-generation cultural structure Territoires pionniers | Maison de l’architecture – Normandie (Pioneer territories / Architecture house Normandy) creates spaces for exchanges and reflection that associate inhabitants and players to the building authorities, elected, local communities, renters and institutions, architects, urban planner and landscapists around our territories’ contemporary challenges. By putting all these actors in synergy, it develops collaborative, creative and experimental actions. It percolates architectural, urban and landscape architecture onto the territory, triggering the motivation for architecture and, more generally, the intent of inhabiting singular spaces.

Pioneer territories is made up of a multidisciplinary team (architect, ethnologist) that contributes its expertise and know how to each project. With an indispensable cultural aspect, it accompanies the implementation of sustainable territorial projects. In 2010, it puts in place experimental actions, particularly in the form of architecture residencies created on an initiative of the Basse-Normandie General Direction for Cultural Affairs. Imagined like a veritable laboratory of the territory, the architects’ residency offers two professionals including an architect an ideal moment to question and experiment. Hosted in a rural neighbourhood or village, the architects go to meet the territory, its inhabitants and users to reveal its qualities and potential. By associating the population to their intent and productions, they create a dynamic allowing everyone to take back their territory and to become an actor in its future.

Main topic : architects' dwellings