Urbanismo Lento | Íñigo García Odiaga

Revitalización y rehabilitación de los espacios públicos de la Isla de Nantes (Nantes, Francia) | Alexandre Chemetoff et associés
Revitalization and rehabilitation of the public spaces of the Nantes Island (Nantes, Francia) | Alexandre Chemetoff et associés

The construction of the city was historically a process slow and based on the apilamiento of strata. On the Roman city the medieval one was arising, Arabic or Jewish later and of chronological form all the urban forms typical of every epoch.

In the middle of the 20th century, it gave beginning for against an expansive urbanism, of unlimited growth. The appearance of the utilitarian vehicle transformed the scale of our cities. The distance now could be major because the time used on having moved in car was minor. Under these new freedoms and the optics of the consumption the city understood that the whole territory could become urban and to feed hereby the growth of the city.

It is easy to understand that opposite to a model who had understood for centuries the growth of the city as a process of engrosamiento, of growth of the thickness, the defended model last fifty years has consisted of that of a spot of oil of unstoppable expansion.

Biotechnology Start ups Incubator, Nantes Island | Lipsky-Rollet architectes
Biotechnology Start ups Incubator, Nantes Island | Lipsky-Rollet architectes

No doubt this urban development phenomenon, which us one presents as a spiral without limit is in the base of such a renowned crisis, for what it is not free questions the model of growth followed by our cities until today.

In this part of the world, that is to say in an Europe with the population in decrease it seems as doubtful minimum to follow the path of the real-estate boom, in which the cities only were seeking to grow and to multiply his population.

The urbanism was based on the legislative change of big areas of territory to legalize in them thousand, two thousand or three thousand housings that often under the drawing totally detailed of this part of the city were constructed in only five years. It is simple to identify this type of operation with any of the big areas in construction of our cities. Zorrozaurre in Bilbao, Auditz-Akular in Donostia, Salburua in Vitoria or Sarriguren in Iruña is examples of this type of growth of the city.

Maybe a good example of another model of action is the developed one for the government of the region of Nantes for the development of the so called island of Nantes.

Revitalización y rehabilitación de los espacios públicos de la Isla de Nantes (Nantes (Francia) | Alexandre Chemetoff et associés
Revitalization and rehabilitation of the public spaces of the Nantes Island (Nantes (France) | Alexandre Chemetoff et associés

The island of Nantes is a fluvial island created by the river Loire to a distance of the coast that was making possible the navigation of this section of river. The arrival of the railroad up to the French city turned these five kilometres of territory into an ideal area for the location of an impressive industrial development tied to the smeltings steels.

The loss of navigability of the river joined the extreme centralidad of these territories in the new city of Nantes they raised the need to re-introduce in urban this space now in disuse.

Opposite to an urbanism that was erasing the fingerprint of the previous activity prefirió to re-use the former plot of the industrial development and to recycle for the city many of the former factories.

This idea that might be understood since romantic has forced on the other hand to a deep rethinking of the urban development management of this area. On the one hand the need to recycle the former structures for new uses the user forced to know interested before and therefore to constructing for a concrete aim opposite to constructing then a buyer to search.

This so punctual change I carry the slowing down of the urban development procedures and what at first could be understood as a disadvantage has demonstrated an advantage. In a process that he has supposed 22 years of small advances, the adjustment of the project to new needs, to new contingencies, to new initiatives and even than unexpected problems it has been very much bigger that when a plan of identical needs shows itself and is projected in its entirety from the first day.

Colegio de abogados en Nantes | Forma6
Bar association in Nantes | Forma6

When the French administration decided to locate a faculty of architecture in Nantes the lot proposed by the municipality he was in the island. It was possible to look for an idyllic solution since the plan was not restricting a concrete soil for such a use. The current building realized by Lacaton and Vassal has contributed a great life to one of the areas of the island. Bars, cafeterias, shops and students’ residences have revitalized the neighborhood generating a new pole of activity in the plot of the city. This solution might be been impostado, forced but in the naturalness of his lace it is departs from his success.

The same effect produced the incorporation in the development of this area of the new courts of the city, a magnificent building constructed by the prize Pritzker Jean Nouvel. The location of the courts in the island indujo the arrival of attorneys’ multiple offices to the area, for what several industrial buildings recovered to locate these new equipments.

An out-standing intervention is precisely the developed one for the bar association of Nantes that rehabilitated of extraordinary form one former hangar to shelter in the new collegiate headquarters near to the courts. A building that shelters in addition a day-care center to favor the integration of the familiar and professional life of the jurists of the city.

Viviendas para jóvenes en la Isla de Nantes | Barré - Lambot / Berranger - Vincent
Housings for young women in the Nantes Island | Barré – Lambot / Berranger – Vincent

This urbanism of slow kitchen, plotted with the passage of time and with punctual actions can serve today as model of a new politics in which the moderation, the logic the ingenuity reward opposite to the laws of the market pre-crisis.

Íñigo García Odiaga. architect
San Sebastián. January 2012

Taking advantage of the chat he debates that VAUMM coordinated in the congress EQUICIUDAD, we have elaborated this text, to summarize somehow our position.

It´s published in ZAZPIKA 01.01.2012

Íñigo García Odiaga

Doctor Arquitecto y profesor asociado de Proyectos Arquitectónicos, ETSASS. Editor de NOMU. 1/5 del estudio de arquitectura VAUMM. Vivo en Donosti.

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