Involvement with citizens
The "manufacture des paysages"
This citizen's community forum, for which I was one of the founders in 2002 is now based in Octon in the heart of the Hérault region. It has been active in bringing to elected officials, inhabitants of all ages, ideas, concepts and analytical tools, permitting them to think together about the possible future of their village, and to think about steps to implement these.
As a part of the association’s education services, the building a "basic" house with middle-school children is the opportunity of living a cycle, from the initial idea with drawings, the making models, then to the actual building full scale.
At first, freely located in different parts of the middle school’s yard and garden, the structures are then brought together in order to create a village, an illustration of the challenge of city planning and living together.
This citizen's group fought against the implantation of a “Super U” large distribution base in Clermont-l’Hérault : 60,000 m² on 35 hectares of farmland.
The project was heralded as bringing new jobs, but, in reality, individual, agricultural, and artisanal initiatives as well as more creative projects, are jeopardized.
Already in 1930 , in his Constructive Program, Gandhi brought up identical fears about the survival of Indian villages faced with the importations of English goods.
The Manufacture des paysages
The association La Manufacture des paysages was founded in Villeneuvette’s old royal factory in 2002. “We were struck by the real urban quality of this small village in regards to contemporary urbanism’s ‘poverty'. We are just a few who wish to ethically and politically examine what’s going on around us,” explains architect Bernard Kohn, one of the founders.
Objectives and approach
Faced with the current rampant and commonplace urbanization models, la manufacture des paysages wants to be a civic meeting ground where critical and constructive questioning can take place. To accomplish this, the association works at:
• the crossroads of architecture, urban planning, landscape, inhabitants, education and of dialogue
• the crossroads of different public: elected officials, technicians, professionals, inhabitants, young people.
With an educational and participative approach, we call on all the people involved to move from their role of spectators to that of actors in their territory. To do this, the association is committed to the use of a variety of modes of expressions in order to allow all to be able to make theirs the questions of the development of their environment, initially perceived as topics “for intellectuals”. In the hopes of democratizing and sharing, the association make used of tools of learning, listening, expression, observation, and fieldwork.
La "manufacture des paysages" is committed to changing the language used in order for everybody to be able to appropriate the questions of the development of their land, initially perceived as “for intellectuals” The fosters involvement, expression, and conversations between the players in a project and in a given place. Within an objective of sharing and furthering a democratic process, the tools make large use of a variety of means of expression listening, expressing, observing, and field work:
• an "itinerant" space, l’Urba-Mobil, which with its workshops and exhibitions goes directly to the people's living environment,
• scale models, maps, satellite pictures and other manipulable components,
• sketches, drawings, photomontages,
• movies, debates, testimonies, the body, everyday objects
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Paolo Freire, Ivan Illich, and Patrick Geddes, who remains an indispensable visionary... Martin Buber, Dom Helder Camara, Pierre Rabhi, E. F. Schumacher, and in our own field : Louis I. Kahn, Aldo Van Eyck, Kevin Lynch, Christopher Alexander, Giancarlo de Carlo, and, even more closely linked to our work in the Hérault region, the contributions of Alberto Magnaghi: “the urban village”, and of David Mangin's "the franchised city".
We can never forget the incredible craftsmen of yesterday and today, from here and from elsewhere, men that the magazines rarely speak about.. At Montpellier’s courthouse, I insisted on putting up, at the entry, a large plaque with on it more than six hundred names: names of the workers who had worked on the building site. Without them, there would not be creation. This recognition is also a form sharing.