Author(s): Marc VERDIER
Contributor: ENSA Nancy

Urban fringes rewriting urban sprawl

The “environmental renaissance of cities” requires the recognition of values (water, energy, landscape, biodiversity, built heritage, social values, customs, etc.) and their composition in a new conception of the way humans can exist sustainably on the land. To confirm contemporary lifestyles and development while signing a new contract with the Earth, from a sustainable perspective… that is the goal we are attempting to explore at the School of Architecture of Nancy.

The suburbs, an accumulation of housing estates, business parks and shopping centres, captive pieces of nature, roundabouts, etc. is fertile ground for inventing the city of tomorrow.

We guide our students simultaneously toward a discussion of society and toward the experiment of the architectural design project on the territorial and urban scale, considering that the role of the school is to participate in public debate on the future of the world… and thus of our young generations who study here!

On the land front

Urban fringes provide the link between various types of land, customs, functions, and environments with a wealth of interfaces between two ecosystems where stakeholders meet, where hybridisations are most promising… Potentially, everything is present to be activated in a grand ambition to build “land fronts” to help invent a new form of collective good here.

In the end, urban sprawl is nothing but an “unfinished” piece of city, and our young architects in training, active between 2020 and 2060 will be those who will reactivate these sites. They are enthusiastic and optimistic about entering these neither nor spaces… neither city, nor countryside… which is to say places where much remains to be invented!

The front is the place where differences and contrasts come together, where one can fight for new freedoms, where one can release energy, and lastly where our young generations come together to rebuild.

As architects, we are on that front.

And in this case, in this experiment, we show them (unless the opposite is true…) that here we can breathe fresh air and remake the world from these ports if we know how to fertilise them with the right materials (in the right ways), to speak of them with the right words, infiltrate the right ideas into them, and then initiate the right actions there.

Programme : Reactivate urban sprawl