Cancon s’y met

Project

Cancon is a small-town of 1500 inhabitants in southwestern France.

The RN21 and the flow of thousands of cars and trucks split the city in two parts. As a result, the historic part of the village and the new dynamic one are no longer linked.

The project raises these two questions:

How can we unite the two parts again by creating a new dynamic and strong identity for this place?

How can the locals be included in the process?

“Cancon s’y met” attempts to answer these questions in a simple way.

We exploit a ‘low budget’ by using urban acupuncture.

This method allows us to deal with as many problems as possible by setting up several humorous and inexpensive projects. Easily adaptable and fast to build, urban acupuncture gives unity to the whole village.”

Interview

What prompted the project? How is this condition similar to that of Paris and its banlieue?

All members of the team are from the countryside. Issues affecting rural areas are of great interest to us. Our approach is simply more local than global. All rural villages have similar problems than Cancon, even in the banlieue’s of Paris.

What informed the acupuncture approach?

Acupuncture as a method allows one to activate or reactivate a multitude of forgotten places in the village quickly and frugally. This guarantees the re-use of spaces with high potential and thus allows one to financially invest where it works best without taking risks.

What kind of research did you develop in order to acquaint yourself with the territory and the context?

As we said before we did this project in collaboration with Adrien Pechberty (Atelier AP) who was born and raised in Cancon, an expert of the place. Additionally, we did a residence of several days to fully acknowledge the problems of the place and to meet the inhabitants.

How do you envision these interventions occurring both in terms of program, scale and time frame?

No restrictions in terms of program, if the inhabitants need it why not do it?
As far as the scale is concerned, acupuncture has no limits other than the respect for the rule of frugality. It is possible to cover large areas with simple and inexpensive items!
Acupuncture tests places to see how they evolve over time and their future potential.
So temporality is very important here, it is the insurance to invest with common sense.

Did you ever think of intervening of the infrastructure itself?

This is one of the difficulties we faced. We could not work directly on the national road because its maintenance depends on a service provided by the French state rather than the town hall. We only worked with visual effects in order to bring a safe and friendly atmosphere while building a new identity for the village.

How do you see the project developing over time?

We propose a tool that allows people to become actors in the development of their city. The future of Cancon now depends on them and how they will use the tool we made available.

What role do the two communities hold in relation to these events?

Acupuncture allows the two communities to both be a part of it. It brings unity and a new common dynamic to both entities.

What defined the language of representation of the project?

We wanted to tell a story to the locals using a language that speaks to all, not only architects. Nothing is better than a comic in communicating ideas.

What tools did you use throughout?

We first used a very useful tool: an anecdote notebook written by the inhabitants. Thanks to this we were able to collect their impressions and wishes. We then explored the village, by photography and then drew the early concepts directly on the photos. Furthermore we modeled everything in 3D with topography and buildings in order to process everything with v-ray & illustrator. At the end the images are a combo of painting work over existing photos and axonometric illustrations with flash colors (red and yellow are Cancon’s colors), both inspired by the comic aesthetic of “Tintin”.

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