"The Lazarus taxon is the reappearance of a species that was thought to be extinct."
In a new district on the site of a former maneuvering area in Nantes, where the main challenge is "the preservation and enhancement of natural spaces", an artist, Laurent Tixador, is working on the ecological dimension of a building construction. During a workshop with about fifteen students, two light houses, "cagnas" were built in early summer 2018 with materials found on site (the walls are made of cob).
Because living in a place goes beyond the mere necessity of housing, it is essential to introduce a history prior to this new district.
The Champ de Manœuvre has recently become a Caz (concerted development zone) which has seen the construction of around 1800 housing units on a former 50-hectare military site in Nantes, along the Carquefou road, since 2018.
The objective is to create a district where the part of the plant and the part of the building will be closely intertwined. The site offers a particular natural environment through the presence of afforestation, wetlands and "natural" formations of interest (clearings, groves and wooded meadows).
In order to conduct a collective reflection on these issues, the workshop proposed by Laurent Tixador consisted in acting before the start of the construction site, on the challenge of this development which aims to conserve the natural resources of the site while building residential constructions.
From 9 to 20 July 2018, a workshop made it possible to build two soldiers' huts called "cagnas" at the time, based on photographic documents collected since 2014 by Laurent Tixador. To move from an image to partial information to the construction of a habitable dwelling, it is necessary to elucidate and extrapolate the materials that have been used and work with the same economy.
In the middle of the centenary of the 1914-1918 war, when the issue of the housing and refugee crisis is becoming more and more important, this "lazar taxon" of architecture, built in a collaborative way, takes on a particular meaning, resolutely invested with a spirit of solidarity.
During the First World War, soldiers were confined during their rest periods to villages or farms behind the front line. When the buildings ran out, many of them were sent into the woods to rest. They then built their own homes, seeking to combine habitability with a utopian vision of returning home.
On a few rare documents, we can see these huts decorated with flowers, curtains or decorative elements intended to project them functionally into a kind of light everyday life without loss.
Like the soldiers, the many exiles who are currently living as they can in Europe do not want to be where they are. By aiming to make a place ever more comfortable and by assembling what is in their immediate environment, they seek to create an urban planning and lifestyle that is inspired by familiar forms. These are often constructions without an initial plan that find their strength as they evolve and allow their users to rest a little and regain energy, thanks also to the collective life they induce.