Les Bogues du Blat
Patrick Bouchain, Loïc Julienne, Sébastien Eymard, Jean Lautrey
Underway – The Drobie Valley in the Parc Naturel Régional des Monts d'Ardèche is an area undergoing profound change. Over the ages, terraces were built on the steep slopes of this valley so that crops could be grown on them. However, as agriculture was mechanized, this relief became too restrictive for crop-farming. For over a century the agriculture of the entire Cévennes area of Ardèche experienced a slow decline, and gradually the landscape became deserted. This trend resulted in a rural exodus which peaked in the 1970s. Recently there has been a revival of interest in the valley for residential and touristic purposes, which has led to increasing numbers of facilities that are not always in the interests of local development. The Beaumont commune decided to embark on contracting building and development projects to meet a growing demand for building land and for traditional houses. It launched a sustainable development project that emphasizes the need to define new residential areas combining individual and collective housing, in a new hamlet inspired by the old, existing one. To this end, it wished to commission an architect to draw up a project for the creation of rural social housing based on the idea of the house as a basic unit, that is, to return to the idea of the house as the private family space, while providing openness to the social group of the hamlet.
The response by Patrick Bouchain and the Construire team went beyond the initial intentions, opened the commission to their experimental approach, and raised the question of the possibility of building differently. The Construire team established a process in which the local population, the contractors, the future residents, the architects and the artists worked in close cooperation to make construction a cultural act. The main lines of the project were defined: to create rural social housing based on the individual house as the basic unit, which meant reverting to the idea of the house as a private family space that was nevertheless open to the social group of the hamlet. A general plan was drawn up for eight houses. This plan could be implemented in several stages, depending on the municipality's needs and the number of requests. A first stage consisted in building between three and five houses, depending on the first people co-opted. Each house overlapped several terraces, but each of them was to be served by its own terrace. Collective terraces could be used as a shared garden. Each house would thus have its private space while being included in a collective whole. A lateral road was to serve each level, but the parking spaces would be grouped together at a distance from the houses. The initial building would consist of a framework of diagonal ribs, its roof, and fittings on the ground floor only (living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom). The rest of the space was to have easily movable partitions that would make the space modulable. Based on this initial house, there were two possibilities: renting the space as it was, with the tenant keeping this initial configuration or gradually extending the living part within the spaces left free; or else enabling the tenant gradually to acquire ownership through a plan defined with the contracting authority.
Patrick Bouchain (°1945) is an architect and theatre designer who is considered to be a "high human quality" architect. He has been teaching and practising for over thirty years. He taught in several schools from 1974 to 1983 (Ecole Camondo, Beaux-Arts de Bourges, and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle, which he founded). We owe him the rehabilitation of industrial wastelands such as the Magasin in Grenoble, in 1985, the Lieu Unique in Nantes and the Condition Publique in Roubaix in 2003, as well as the creation of marquees and theatres: the Théâtre équestre Zingaro in Aubervilliers in 1988, the Volière Dromesko in Lucerne in 1991, the Théâtre du Radeau in Le Mans in 1993, the Grange au Lac in Evian in 1993, the Ecole de Cirque in Rosny-sous-Bois, and the Académie Fratellini in La-Plaine-Saint-Denis. He collaborates with leading artists on situated projects: Daniel Buren at the Palais Royal, Ange Leccia, Jean-Luc Vilmouth, and so on. He was the conductor of the Grandes Roues show in 2000 on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, and of the Jour de Fête at the Grand Palais in December 2005.