Greater Paris Cultural (Ad)venture
Grand Paris Seine et Oise , 2017
In 2017, we were invited to work with the urban community of Grand Paris Seine & Oise, the largest region of Greater Paris, grouping together 6 former multi-town administrative clusters and 73 municipalities who had never worked together on a project before. This entirely new urban community, endowed with rich cultural expertise, was deliberating about the kind of cultural policy that was needed in such a varied region that is quite coherent in terms of geography, spread out as it is on both sides of the winding river Seine, but remains completely heterogeneous from a social point of view – it includes towns where the wealth tax is the highest in France and those that are among the poorest in the whole country. Working with the researcher Raphaël Besson and Villes Innovations, which specialises in urban innovation, we determined to respond to this challenge.
We proposed a reactive and collaborative method for developing a cultural strategy that we considered needed to be closely focused on the region itself. Our sense was that culture offers huge benefits to a region and can facilitate both the way it is perceived and the way it is constructed, while on the other hand the region offers resources (natural, economic, urban) which nourish the cultural dynamic. The study opened our eyes to the immensity of this region and the challenges it faces in seeing itself an ensemble. We met with stakeholders, discovered places – not only cultural – and ran workshops to find out more about people’s expectations and hopes, in order to lay the foundations for a strategy that we called Grand Pari(s) Culturel Seine et Oise – the Greater Paris Cultural (Ad)Venture for the Seine et Oise Region. In collaboration with the Master Ville Durable de l’Ecole de Design Nantes-Atlantique (Masters programme in Sustainable Cities at the Nantes-Atlantic School of Art and Design) we developed tools inspired by design thinking* – specifically a collaborative cartography linking different stakeholders and broadening the question of what culture is. We also suggested that the president of the urban community, local councillors and municipal employees visit another large conurbation, Aix-Marseille. This three-day study trip was an opportunity to find out more about a variety of projects. Finally, we organised an open space technology meeting** bringing together a hundred local stakeholders to think creatively about the Hundred (micro)sites of the Greater Paris Cultural (Ad)venture for the Seine et Oise Region.