The project focuses on the social and cultural activation of the Croix-Rouge district in Reims, France, acting in a public parking where a socio-cultural equipment will be built by 2015. The aim of the action is to make a program of social and cultural activities covering the need of the district.
In order to get this before 2015, Collectif ETC and neighbours together designed and built wooden structures to be located on the site creating new spaces for public use (entertainment area, bar, social space for the neighbourhood, culture space, associations rooms and public space) where there will be open-workshops and a program of mixed events. The main target is the configuration and programming of a new cultural space generating social dynamics.
LOCATION AND DEMOGRAPHY
The Croix-Rouge is located in the southwest periphery of Reims, France. Surrounded by the motorway, it is a closed district but with good public transport connections to the city centre.
Located in the southwest periphery of Reims, The Croix-Rouge neighbourhood needs an extensive urban renewal operation.
Croix-Rouge is a quiet area. The 19,830 inhabitants are mostly people in employment difficulties and have very little income (17,900 Euros per household). There are a large number of social housing (42%) and unemployment is very high (24%).
The lack of facilities and commerce becomes evident making the neighbourhood a place without life (0.1 restaurants, cafes and bars every 100m).
The Croix-Rouge neighbourhood is undergoing an extensive needed urban renewal operation in which it is planned to build a new cultural and social facility.
SOCIAL PROBLEMS AND CONTROVERSIES
The Croix-Rouge is a suburb formed mostly by social housing. A neighbourhood in which the population is poor, the neighbours doesn’t have facilities.
There is a lack of public spaces in good condition, meeting places and social and cultural facilities. Despite this need for public spaces, most public areas are car parking.
The neighbourhood needs vitality and a reform of social facilities. This reform of the public areas is proposed but is not being carried out by generating feelings of abandonment towards the neighbourhood.
The agents involved in the project are:
– The neighbours who the project of rehabilitation of the parking is destined to.
– The City Council which gives the public area for intervention. Policy Department of the city, they financier of the future reform project of public spaces.
– Collectif ETC. Born in Strasbourg in September 2009 has a common dynamic questioning of urban space. Through different mediums and different skills, the Collectif ETC wants to be a medium for social urban experimentation.
– Collective Cochenko. Established in 2007, the collective Cochenko explores various spaces involved with people in a public place, place of living and meeting in order to build “ordinary utopias.”
– The TRAC association that has several cultural interventions on different parts of the Reims city.
– La Maison de Quartier Pays de France. Their premises will be transferred in the future equipment.
– La maison de la vie associative. Their premises are partially transferred to the future equipment. The home of community life is an equipment service association.
The Detour France
From September 2011 to September 2012, the Collectif ETC. went cycling on the roads around France to meet and work in different social and cultural needed places.
In many cities in France, initiatives that involve citizens in the planning and management of their cities are emerging. This raises awareness of the need to think about the future of our cities together, as a means of effective democracy and social empowerment. These initiatives come from very different people: the inhabitants, associations, committees, artists, professionals, institutions, politicians…
The two major goals of the members of the Collectif ETC. were:
1. Performing an inventory and analysis of all existing practices of creative participation on the French territory.
2. Intervening in collaboration with local stakeholders to implement regenerative projects.
Remis is of the cities they did an intervention, in a public parking in Croise Rois neighbourhood.
The future of the public area
Located in the southwest outskirts of Reims, the Croise Rois district is going to be rehabilitated with a large-scale urban renewal in which it is planned to build a public building. The building will be designed as a socio-cultural place.
To progressively support the construction equipment until 2015, it is proposed to intervene with open projects, several times a year, from June 2013 and up. So, there are different phases of project.
These projects will also be an opportunity to debate, shared meals and cultural events, making it possible to dialogue as open as possible users of the equipment around the progress of the project and the issues it raises.
The overall objective of the project is to support today’s equipment, a programmatic network of spaces. It will be generate social dynamics on the site, carrying a creative user participation in the project equipment. The program is always open to possible recommendations that emerge from the conceptualization phase.
Phases and strategies:
To show the future equipment.
From 3 to 15 June 2013, the Collectif ETC. settled in the parking lot to start negotiations about the program of the future building and begin the change of use of existing parking. The target is not to question the project, which has been built over many years with stakeholders of the place, but to put it into dialogue with a wider audience and to explore the potential of a public site.
– Spatial reconfiguration of the building that is going to be built in 2015.
– Uses reconfiguration program.
– Involve public up through open workshops.
– Implement communication tools.
A first challenge was to start the change of image of public parking space through the co-construction of urban furniture with the neighbours. It was proposed to create a modular portable furniture design.
Six modules have been built in situ, 2.5 x 5 m as the size of a parking space, to integrate into the current design of the parking areas. Two modules foreshadow the future auditorium with a stage and a step, a module represents the bar, another one the culture space, a large table for associations and finally, a last module is a muscular exercise area in the development of future public space. These modules have been designed and integrated into the project site by the neighbours on their proposals.
A second challenge of this project was prefigured the programmatic content of the building by organizing events linking the future users of the site.
Different concerts were scheduled to attending the various associations and local musicians and theatre performances are also scheduled.
Meals sponsored by associations.
The Cultural Institute organizes workshops for children every day. The libraries run by the media, makes special visits to the site, modules are also available for additional workshops.
The time for projects in the city can be an opportunity for learning and exchange moments open to all. Social and educational structures: schools, college, leisure center are all audiences interested in the changes in their environment. It seems essential to involve them today in the foreshadowing of the project and its uses.
Some workshops were offered to build the structure and decking of furniture and painting boards were pre-cut plywood to enhance the vertical walls of the modules. A workshop poster design and logos from buffers with simple shapes was also conducted by designers.
The scrap wood is an important volume. With that is set up a dedicated workshop, people goes also to enjoy the atmosphere, tools and advices to make their own pieces of furniture complements the project.
The implementation of communication tools:
If the act of building a whole seems conducive to exchange with each other, it’s have also developed tools for communication in parallel to try to touch the rest of the population and diffuse the actuation.
A workshop production of a newspaper was also introduced on the project. It is upgradable newspaper; the idea is to add pages throughout the project until the opening of the equipment in a future.
Beyond outdoor advertising, it’s also organized a roundtable with association’s key users of the building, two representatives of the cultural scene Reims, the service of the policy of the city, a resident and an outsider.
This reflection on the role of local dynamics in future development, aimed to engage a first exchange of views on the role of each in the construction of future equipment and open debate on the ability of the equipment to federate different populations in the area and elsewhere.
Visual identity equipment:
Different workshops are projected relating to the identity of the project: the patterns on the modules, the billboard, the newspaper, creative workshops posters… The equipment built his image.
The use of recycled wood for building the artefacts and the reuse of the wood left over from the construction of project structures serve as a decorative element, once customized through workshops, it serves as the hallmark of the public space.
Knowing the project projected in the plot is not even started, the city council gives a budget to the Collectifet in order to start the idea of them. They create their artefact for the needs of the place but not giving a economical strategy. So, finally, when the money is over the project will never grow up unless they get some more money from public organizations.
SUCCESSES AND FAILURES – PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES
No utility project throughout the year. The lack of acclimatization of space where activities are carried out, severely restricts the usage time of the installation.
The project does not generate any economic benefit for itself. So the development of the action will be stalled when the budget is over.
The ephemeral nature of the project is a weak point right now, because when the artefacts are replaced by the building will have a program of spaces and activities that will be assigned without regard to the group of the population. The project has great social and cultural load reactive neighbourhood space thanks to the inclusion of the population in itself configuration, but no one knows what will happen when implementing the new building.
The main idea of the project is to create a social and cultural useful space on a public parking. Considering the neighbours as an essential element of the project and the inclusion of them in the creative and programmatic design phase is the issue for reactivation. The purpose and importance of this urban experiment is not only the result, but the process that it makes and the new atmosphere and behaviour. The project is a process in itself, through open workshops that involve socially to neighbours and have a social burden and participative use and enjoyment of public area through the work setting.
The continuous developing of the project has become in a landmark event for the neighbourhood, creating an identity that the neighbours have designed and built with Collectif ETC.
The project carried out on the site is completely ephemeral; it will disappear in 2015 with the construction of a building in the same place, ignoring the possible effects to neighbours after having worked on something that works.