Mission : Parc du Moulon - Making its zones available
Plateau de Saclay , 2015-2018
The urban design and landscape architecture office West 8 was awarded the tender by the public body Paris-Saclay to design a park as part of the Plateau de Saclay, the ambitious new science and technology cluster in Greater Paris situated to the south of the capital: the Parc du Moulon, conceived as a major public space in the new neighbourhood. Several weeks before the park was completed, the public agency and the designers realised that the future users of the site had not been involved in the project at all...
Although we were part of the West 8 and Polyptique team appointed to the landscape design project, we were barely involved in the early stages of the project’s definition and conception after the team was awarded the project in 2015. It was only during the last months of the mission that we joined forces with the team to come up with a way of attracting stakeholders and users to this future public space, and to think about what kinds of activities would take place there.
In collaboration with the artist-researcher Axel Meunier, we established a methodology that would allow us to co-create, along with our partners and the users of the new neighbourhood, a programme of art activities within the Parc du Moulon. Our research revealed a project (for the park, and also more generally for the entire university) that was thoroughly thought-out and highly organised, but which left barely any place for the spontaneous use of the site. It also showed us that there was no space for negotiation to bring together all the different interested parties: the public body Paris-Saclay, local government, the universities that had been integrated into the Paris-Saclay project, students, urbanists, and the CROUS personnel. We decided to create a shared map of the site, as a way of interrogating the question of availability: which areas remained available and unprogrammed? How could a resident or user make themselves available to the group? We set up a mixed, horizontal “assembly” for those interested in how to bring the Plateau to life. Through a series of workshops, the group invented new tools to map networks and different initiatives, to test modes of collective organisation, and to suggest different possible ways of using of the future park. The final stage of the project was to design a prototype for a festive, convivial takeover of the park. This last activity, which would have required a full rethink of the ways of using the park and the relationships between different parties, was ultimately not authorised, but its preparation allowed us to consider the issue of the collective in the development of this new site.