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Should alternatives become models ? Observing institutional experiments in citizens involvment in public spaces projects

Margaux Vigne 1
1 CRENAU - Centre de recherche nantais Architectures Urbanités
AAU - Ambiances, Architectures, Urbanités
Abstract : Should alternatives become models? Observing institutional experiments in citizens involvement in public spaces projects Hello I'm Margaux, I'm a landscape architect beginning my third year of PhD, in the architecture school of Nantes in France. I apologize, I'm going to read my text cause my English is not so good, but I hope at least understandable. I also want to say I'm still in the heart of my research, so my presentation will focus more on fieldwork than on theory, and bringing more questions than answers. My PhD research is studying the interaction between experimentation and institutionalization dynamics within citizens involvement in public spaces development projects, in two European cities : Nantes and Brussels. These projects use generally speaking alternative approaches, previously mainly initiated by civil society, and now seized by public stakeholders and progressively turning into real public policies. These approaches are not really new but are today reused in a totally different context where the participation of the citizens has become a generalized idea and even an injunction. What is new is their position and role in the urban transformation and I'm asking if they produce a transformative impact on urban fabric or not. I do not have the time to go in details but I would like to introduce a little on each case. In Brussels: This is the Tour and Taxis site that is the former disused customs of Belgium, on the canal side, between the municipality of Brussels and the municipality of Molenbeek, I'm sure you heard about Molenbeek. Regional authorities wanted to develop a green spaces sequence from the Northwest to the historical center, but this hope was promptly in danger, as the biggest and central lot has been sold by the state to a private owner in 2000. Bruxelles Environnement, which is the administration in charge of green spaces development and management, decided to initiate two experiments on the plots they still control the property. Parckdesign was a temporary festival, of which remain a few devices now managed by an association of inhabitants: a greenhouse; a chicken coop; some beehives; a vegetable garden; etc. Allée du Kaai is a temporary occupation of former industrial sheds, set on a plot that is supposed to be transformed into a public park. The idea is to occupy the site for 4 years to initiate a social dynamic, and also to experiment uses in parallel of the programming and conception period of the future park. The place is running quite well, there is a strong appropriation, local associations are managing the site and leading various activities each week. In Nantes: This is the Île de Nantes; it is an island on the river Loire, in the center of the city. It is a well-know urban project in France since 20 years, on a former industrial area, and already quite well developed. The project is conducted by the SAMOA, which is a SPL société publique d'aménagement. Very briefly, a SPL is a society whose capitals are owned by public actors, and mandated for specific distric development on a given period. The SAMOA had previously some disappointing citizens participation experiences that they judged as too events oriented, not producing substantial impacts on the planning practice and attracting an insufficiently diverse population. Consequently they initiate a vast program of citizen's involvement. As of now, I'm currently following a specific project, just beginning. The idea is that the inhabitants become the sponsors of the future development, and also to reach the precarious people, quite numerous in the neighborhood. Are these cases alternatives and alternatives to what? I did the exercise of taking the way you tried to define what made alternatives alternative in the call for paper and confront it to my cases, and finally combine the results in three topics: one about the socio-economical aspects, one about the governance questions, and one about the urban fabric issues.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02475829
Contributor : Margaux Vigne <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 10:56:05 AM
Last modification on : Friday, November 20, 2020 - 2:36:16 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, June 5, 2020 - 12:44:26 PM

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Margaux Vigne. Should alternatives become models ? Observing institutional experiments in citizens involvment in public spaces projects. AAG (American Association of Geographers) annual meeting, Apr 2017, Boston, United States. ⟨halshs-02475829⟩

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