The project aims at the installation of ecological cultural huts called « cabane de chantier » (construction site huts) that would be installed in different districts of the city of Reims and in the outlying villages. They are conceived as a tool for cultural development to kindle a sense of belonging between the neighborhoods and their inhabitants, through consultation, design and production of events as inclusive as possible to embrace everyone until 2028.
The concept is to create new architectural spaces, allowing the reappropriation of neighborhood life by its inhabitants through the development of a cultural offer co-imagined by the citizens and the institutions already existing on the territory.
8 huts will be installed:
- 6 will be installed in the districts of Reims
- One hut will be set up in the cities and rural areas of the urban community of « Grand Reims » (143 villages)
- We would like to develop a mobile hut in a network of partner cities within the Grand Est region
The realization of these construction site huts is carried out by students from the Ecole Supérieure d'Art et de Design de Reims. They are currently working on the conceptualization of a specific design for each hut so that the external aesthetics of the huts reflect the identity and the belonging to a district. In 2028, all the huts will be blended to form a totemic place in Reims, showing both the diversity and unity of the territory. They will return to their neighborhoods after the European Capital of Culture year label.
Beyond aesthetics, these huts are thought to be a medium that allows culture to "go to the people". The pandemic has shown that the development of digital initiatives did not allow to reach new audiences than the initiated public. The huts would constitute a new format of diffusion, through the meetings, the exchanges and the co-construction of an artistic program by all the community.
The inhabitants and the cultural structures of the territory will be encouraged to make theirs these spaces in order to make them places of life and to propose cultural, artistic and sports activities, moments of celebration and conviviality. The huts will be tools, designed as spaces for exchanges and meetings and will encourage creation. Finally, it is a question of valorizing the identities and strengths of the districts of Reims and the "Grand Reims" area and of its inhabitants.
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context
The project of the huts has been designed to meet strict environmental criteria. It is also in line with the application of Reims 2028, which has implemented a carbon accounting approach to limit its environmental impact. This project will therefore be built according to the same standards.
The huts are upcycled metal containers that have been converted into spaces that can accommodate the public. The students are working on the conceptualization of structures made with environmentally friendly materials, coming from recycling or upcycling channels. In its conception, the hut will be designed to limit its impact on the environment working on the thermal insulation, the treatment of waste, the power supply by solar energy (by photovoltaic panels). The electronic appliances will be able to come from rehabilitation channels to promote the circular economy.
The inhabitants will be able to take part in the evolution of the huts by participating in workshops to make furniture and decorations from locally sourced raw materials (for example, recovery of wood scraps from champagne barrels or glass scraps from stained glass workshops), but also materials from the destruction of buildings in their neighborhood. Reims is indeed the city with the most social housing in France, with a high rate of rehabilitation and reconstruction. The materials could be recovered as testimonies of the memory of the place like mailboxes...
The overall project of the European Capital of Culture is also about working on social issues, mobility and of course sustainable development. The cabins will be the vectors to make the populations work on issues such as the reduction of the carbon footprint, solidarity, reuse, circular economy etc. The ambition is to mobilize citizens around climate issues and invite them to take part in workshops, conferences etc. around these themes (composting, zero waste, ecological products…). This program will also be built according to the needs of the inhabitants.
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context
Behind the construction and implementation of these huts are objectives on several scales.
First of all, in terms of aesthetics, these cabins will be implanted in different districts of the city, but each of them will have its own visual identity; the cabins will be customized with graphic elements representing the identity of the district, with references to its history, its geography, its sociology, its heritage, its economy, etc., while being perfectly integrated in the architectural context of the district. This exterior design is one of the big issues of the project because it will reflect the belonging of this hut to its neighborhood.
We also work on the interior design of the huts. Because if the hut is thought as a structure of reception of a cultural offer (with all that it implies in terms of soundproofing, comfort for the public, installations for the technical teams and the artists), we also wish to make of it spaces of user-friendliness and meetings (conferences, exchanges with the artists, participative workshops...).
Therefore, we encourage the students of the Ecole supérieure d'art et de design de Reims to think and work around the questions of the relationship between the interior and the exterior, the reusability of a place and a space, and the feeling of belonging.
One of the main objectives through 2028, all these huts will be blended to form a larger architectural space, whose visual assembly would show both the diversity and the unity of the city.
Please highlight how the concept/idea can be exemplary in this context
The purpose of the project is to go towards and reach the population. To do this, they will be set up in all the districts of the city of Reims and in the urban and rural areas of Greater Reims (the largest community of municipalities in France comprising 143 villages). The inclusion of populations in the global project of Reims 2028 and the resulting desire to change the image of the city and to recreate links between populations that do not live together. This must be on a large scale whatever the level of cultural development of these territories. Indeed, the city of Rheims is divided between the bourgeois city center, the neighborhoods classified as "city policy" and the rurality of the communes and these circles do not intersect. We wish to generate, through these cultural structures, a feeling of belonging to all the population. The project will be built thanks to exchanges between the Reims 2028 association, local structures and associations, artists and residents. It is the inclusion of all the actors of the territory that will be the key factor of success of the project. To illustrate the notion of citizen engagement, the goal is to build participatory projects that allow amateurs, to become actors in cultural actions allows families to find their place in this scheme.
These spaces decompartmentalize the cultural offer present in the city. It is also a question of going to seek cultural practices less democratized or sometimes considered as popular culture. These huts will then be playgrounds in order to mix all cultures and to propose to the cultural institutions to challenge their programming by building. It should also include the European dimension, keystone of the project. To do this, we plan to program residencies for European and extra-European artists, to discover the culture of the many communities that live in Reims to create bridges with our twinned cities and to open up to the cities of the Grand Est region by having a travelling cabin.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary
The project of the cultural huts is an evolving project that will be co-constructed by all the stakeholders of the territory, from cultural institutions to local associations, including the inhabitants.
The incorporation of the inhabitants to this project is done on two levels:
- Belonging to the global project of the European Capital of Culture, which must be experienced by all the inhabitants to be a success. These huts are the vector that allows the inclusion of the population in the cultural development of Greater Reims.
- On another level, the project of the construction site huts reflects the belonging of each of the populations to its district. First of all through the aestheticism of the huts which will be designated in the image of the territories. But also through the programming that will take place in these huts and that will be co-created by the inhabitants.
The construction site huts are a functional and aesthetic tool that will allow to federate the whole population around a process. It is a meeting place : inhabitants of a district but also cultural practices, decompartmentalized and mixed to build a new proposal. They must be the blank canvas where the cultural programs will be drawn in its widest dimension, around art, sport, social relations, solidarity, ecology and citizen commitment around a global project.
This project goes further than the application or the label, it is about initiating creation processes and implementing the actors of the territory for the development of cultural projects, turned towards Europe, in its own identity as in its diversity.
All the cultural actors will work together on the programming of these huts in order to create common projects, mixing the different cultural practices. As mentioned, part of the programming will remain open so that the inhabitants can co-construct it. Concretely, the huts will be open to the public on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as evening in summer.
The originality of the concept lies in its ability to make of the huts not only places, but pieces of art themselves. They are first of all architectural objects thought and conceived in the image of their neighborhood by the students of the school of Design.
They are also the product of a work carried out by the inhabitants, for the inhabitants, over several years and must reflect the specificities of each district. The objective of blending these huts in a totem place is to show the diversity of the project's stakeholders, who are all united around the European project.
What is innovative is that the place is a tool and not an end. It is the receptacle of cultural practices, it is the showcase.
As part of the bid of the city of Reims as European Capital of Culture 2028 the project is subject to a defined provisional calendar.
From January to December 2022
- engineering phase by the ESAD students, accompanied by a volunteer architect, but also by the building companies that are patrons of the project to bring them the technical aspect. It is therefore also a learning project for the students in contact with professionals who learn to work with the local fabric.
- definition of the location of the huts, meeting with the actors of the district: associations, structures, shopkeepers, inhabitants etc.
The objective is to be able to install a first hut in one of the districts of Reims by December 2022.
At the same time : from June to December 2022
All the cultural and associative actors of the territory (museums, libraries, contemporary art center, national scenes, opera, circus, neighborhood associations...) on a voluntary basis participate in the composition of the cultural programming. Many actors have already positioned themselves to occupy the spaces.
From January to December 2023
- Installation of 3 huts in the neighborhoods of Reims, launch of participatory and ambulatory projects.
- Launch of the mobile hut in the Greater Reims area
From 2024 to 2028 the huts will be able to live and evolve through the districts and territories of Greater Reims. In 2028, the huts will be gathered in a totem place of Reims, European capital of culture, as an emblem of the diversity of Greater Reims. The huts will then be installed in a permanent way in their neighborhood.
Communication around the project will initially be very local, with the aim of making the inhabitants understand what they are and how they can use them. To do this, members of the Reims 2028 association will be present on site to meet the inhabitants and present the project to them. Local actors such as associations, neighborhood houses and shopkeepers will also be the first ambassadors.
The awarding of the European New Bauhaus prize would take place during the design of the huts, since the first three huts must be installed on the territory before June 2023. Therefore, it would be for us a recognition allowing us to establish the legitimacy of the project with the inhabitants and notably the cultural actors - hence to make it known to the greatest number of people as an innovative and inclusive action, in particular on an European scale. It would also allow us to legitimize our project in regards to our European partners.
We also believe that this would officially recognize the role of citizen participation in the construction of ecological, cultural and inclusive projects. We are taking part in a sustainable process aiming at rethinking the construction and the diffusion of cultural programs, and this award will also allow us to reinforce this message with local public authorities.
This gain in legitimacy and visibility should allow us to develop initiatives that we are currently working on, such as the visit of European or international artists to the huts to meet the populations, the participation of larger cultural structures, or to think more about the reutilization of raw materials in an artistic approach.