LILLE DESIGN FOR CHANGE 2014 PROPOSAL
As a part of a larger team envisioning futures for the city of Lille, France, we reimagined what the empty border space between France and Belgium in the town of Tourcoing might look like if it was turned into a sculpture garden and public space. This not only included a proposal for the transformation of the space itself, but also a collaborative process by which the local residents from both sides of the border could meaningfully participate in the curation of the art and events in the park, which may in turn provide a needed rapport between the municipal governments of the towns on either side (both called Tourcoing) and facilitate more openness between their communities.
Collaborators: Ashley Graham, Chisun Rees
HOW MIGHT WE ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT WITH THE UNUSED SPACES OF TOURCOING ON THE BORDER BETWEEN FRANCE AND BELGIUM?
LE PARC FACE À LA FRONTIÈRE
Face à la frontière will be a pleasant green space, not only for recreation, but for cultural exchange and discussion. The park will be an attraction for local pedestrians, sightseers, art enthusiasts, and another space for recreation next to--and connecting to--the playing fields on the French side.
- a passageway, not a barrier, both along the border and across it.
- Cultural Exchange:
- reduce tensions associated with the border
- bring action to and across the border instead of away from it
- promote discussion about local and regional issues and identity by providing a space for artists and residents to express themselves
- encourage cooperation between the French and Belgian local governments.
- Art Presentation:
- provide a showcase for artists and large-scale artworks, particularly an initial series of “bridges” that will be commissioned to cross the border at various entry points along the length of the park
- provide an opportunity for residents to discuss and engage with art about borders of all kinds
- provide residents with the power to commission new works for the space through an
- organization that cares for and improves upon the park and the art inside it
- A green space along the border between France and Belgium, located in a densely populated suburban area, is unused and creates a barrier between the French and Belgian communities in the same neighborhood. As of France and Belgium signing the Schengen Agreement, the borders between the two countries are officially termed “internal borders” and have open exchange, without border controls. Thus, instead of a “no-man’s land”, this space holds the potential to represent a shared, “internal” French and Belgian identity, or at least a space to discuss what that might mean.
- Local access to public recreation spaces is limited on the Belgian side by the lack of border crossings. The Stade Bourgogne, a set of playing fields, are positioned directly beside an unused portion of the border zone. Currently, Belgian residents must walk or drive around the space to access the park and recreation space. Increasing pedestrian access across the border will increase access to and use of already existing recreational facilities, and encourage interaction between the French and Belgian portions of the neighborhood.
- Two different sets of laws govern the two sides of this narrow space, and police jurisdiction is limited to one side of the border. Creating a border with several different access points, potentially with gates or passageways that could be shut, would encourage foot traffic while still making law enforcement possible.
Putting the Park in Place:
- We will use the already existing space and optimize it by collaborating with landscape designers, in order to create a pleasant and relaxed, self-contained park that encourages foot traffic both across and along the length of it.
- We will create a partnership with L’École régionale supérieure d’expression plastique in Tourcoing to form a group of students (potentially as a class or an extracurricular project) to build a literal or metaphorical “bridge”, a piece of artwork that reflects the cooperation/conflict inherent in the space and the act of mediating between two countries and cultures.
- Working together with both local and regional artists, we will curate a collection of site-specific art pieces that deal with political and social borders. Particularly welcome would be perspectives on French/Belgian identity, the Schengen Agreement, European identity, and other such timely issues.
The Park in Perpetuity: L’Association Face à la Frontière (AFF)
We will form a committee of interested citizens from both sides of the border to participate in the creation of the park and to take responsibility for its continued development and upkeep. This group will provide a bridge between the local governments who must jointly enforce law in the area and maintain the quality and integrity of the green space. It will also promote the park, organize events, and commission or invite new and relevant works from local or international artists as it sees fit.