Education / Research

Atelier de création paysagère et urbaine 2012 - Bordeaux, France

Located on the outskirts of the historic center of Bordeaux, in the heart of the mutating industrial maritime area Bassin-à-flots, the Bordeaux Submarine Base (BSB) represents a considerable urban challenge. This old bunker built by the Germans during World War II and considered indestructible boasts unusual architectural features: its size (42,000 m2) and the size of its constructive elements (3-meter thick walls).

Part cultural center and partly abandoned, the BSB’s future raises several questions; namely for its identity referral to the war and the German occupation, and for pragmatic reasons pertaining to its massiveness and high upgrading cost.

At the invitation of the city of Bordeaux, the Studio International BSB (1 to 7 July 2012) aimed to engage reflection on the future of BSB with 5 prospective development proposals. The proposals were designed by students from the École Spéciale d’Architecture de Paris, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Faculté d’Architecture La Cambre-Horta de l’Université Libre de Bruxelles and CUPEUM. They allowed for exploration of the potential reallocation of interior spaces and of the building’s integration constraints in a future urban area. While experimenting on the site’s future, the proposals also questioned the spirit of place and the slow transformation of public perceptions associated with a historical military site.

Results from the workshop were presented to Mr. Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux, and to members of the municipal administration. They were also exhibited during the 5thedition of AGORA - Bordeaux’s biennial of architecture, urban planning and design - held from 13 to 16 September 2012.

For the 3rdconsecutive year, Studio international BSB took part in an academic cooperation between France, Switzerland, Belgium and Canada, which aimed to explore the potential of prospective design in generating reflections on a city’s future.

The workshop subscribes to the wider context of discussions engaged at CUPEUM on cityscapes and particular, on the contribution of landscape projects in providing relevant answers about the many challenges facing urban areas seeking reclassification. Based on brainstorming and territorial prospective (e.g. creative workshop, idea contest), the thinking is based on research-action anchored on actual urban areas to better understand issues and aspirations associated with the future of territories and their potential of redevelopment, if not reinvention.