The “Trans-Form” pedagogy
For the past decades, the Normandy region has faced numerous economic and social obsolescence phenomena, such as the disappearance of industrial activities, fragility of some harbours, insalubrity of historical centres suffering a crisis or still, the degradation of architectures dating back to the so-called “glorious thirties”.
Faced with this factual situation that falls into the scope of a wide diversity of geographical situations, a team of teachers from the ENSA Normandy worked to demonstrate that other attitudes are possible through the experimentation of new uses, lifestyles, and places for living together.
A teaching of the architectural project focused on recognising and developing sites in crisis
The Master cycle offers two project workshops in the first and second year called respectively “Building in the built” and “Trans-form” (PFE semester) that question the reconversion of abandoned industrial sites, great entities looking for new uses or still, historical centres.
In partnership with the University of Le Havre (UFR Engineering), the DRAC course (Diagnostic et Réhabilitation des Architectures du Quotidien / Diagnosis and Rehabilitation of Everyday Architectures) guarantees a specialised tuition associating architects and engineers.
The course concentrates on developing new practices and expertise of the architect trade responding to the questions posed by these urban or suburban sites: heritage protection, interventions on existing buildings, depollution, emergence of new uses stemming from spatial potentialities, economic development at urban or territorial scale.
Recognising the value of these sites by refusing to accept their decline and long term disappearance requires the invention of new approaches: refusal for generic or spectacular architecture, collaborative approaches with the civil society, particularly local communities, inhabitants or artists’ collectives investing industrial wastelands.
It also focuses on revisiting the traditional missions of the architect in the face of these new challenges: project management, programme and assistance-council in the collective approaches of inhabitants.
Faced to these territory-related challenges, the tactic to reclassify sites not only requires the acquisition of new knowledge but a new form of militant commitment, which is all too often ignored by architecture schools.
Recognize and value crisis sites