After winning a competition commissioned by the Public Urban Planning Agency of Saint-Etienne (France), the Collectif Etc designed a public square of 670 sqm and built it with the inhabitants in a participative process in July 2011.
At the intersection of two streets, the site was formerly a wasteland. Answering the on-going urban changes in the neighborhood, the project simulates a first step of the process in which a building is designed and built. The idea is to represent the plan of imaginary housings on the ground and their section on the wall. Now people can imagine living in the future buildings and get an idea of the impact of the real one that should be built in a couple of years.
For a whole month, three types of workshops have been set up and were fully open to anyone, every day from 9 am to 8 pm:
- A carpentry workshop to build all the urban furniture;
- A graphic design workshop to give life to the imaginary housings and to the surroundings;
- A landscape and gardening workshop to establish the green space and shared garden in the middle of the site.
The construction site was open to the public and people could exchange and learn from each other. The Collectif Etc provided everyone with tools, safety gears and advice. Local associations, artists and musicians were invited to organize various activities such as wall paintings, concerts, circus workshops, open air movies, sports tournaments, tango lessons, special meals, debates, etc. An online blog was set up to showcased the everyday life on the construction site: http://www.placeauchangement.fr.
The works are now over. A water tank is available and local people had the initiative to keep taking care of the garden themselves and organize regular events. The furniture is not damaged, the place is well maintained and the inhabitants decided to name it “Place of the Giant” after the large painting made by artists Ella&Pitr. It is now an important element in the neighborhood, a place that neighbors identify to.
Text provided by Collectif Etc