REPLAY * - From an in-between space to a territory of the Greater Paris

Cergy 2013 / France
Student Workshop
30 August 2013 / 27 September 2013

From an in-between space to a territory of the Greater Paris : The plaine de Pierrelaye-Bessancourt
* Innovating, understanding, inventing, renewing, regenerating, convincing, daily habits and long-term periods, uses and strategies, investments, places, visions and processes

This large space was used during decades as a territory serving the needs of the metropolis: it was one of the spreading areas for the wastewater of the City of Paris, which resulted in significant pollution causing health risks that are currently being assessed.
There is no obvious way to address this pollution: the environmental challenge is daunting. Social aspects are also significant: Several activities that are not permitted or recognized such as encampments of travellers, scrap yards, dumps, etc.. developed on the Plaine, which is a space that remains mostly unbuilt.

Today, in the framework of the Greater Paris, the elected representatives of this area are promoting a project intending to create a contemporary forest, which would remain an open space, while taking into account issues related to energy (possible biomass production, etc.).
This original project raises many questions: what can be the uses for the new metropolitan forest? what can be the economic model for this recreational area? what kind of leisure activities can be fostered ? can the forest transform the image of the Plaine de Pierrelaye-Bessancourt ? and of course, what can we do with the Plaine while the forest is being planted and grown ?
The mobilization around this project is exceptional: the municipal, sub-regional and regional level, but also the State level are totally committed to work on this project, and are leading together several studies on the site.

The 24 students who will be selected for the workshop will have an additional mission to the ongoing studies: they will have to suggest how an in-between space becomes a part of the Greater Paris, they will try to build a vision for the reconversion of the site considering the different territorial scales, they will try to meet the expectations of the elected representatives while integrating the specific constraints of this extraordinary site. The 2013 session promises to be an adventure in itself, because behind the constraints of the site, the workshop actually calls for anticipating, for trying to imagine new uses for the site and for rethinking the dynamics and balance of the area. At the crossroads of planning, environment and identity issues, the Plaine de Pierrelaye-Bessancourt is in search of a new destiny!

Find here Angelyn Chandler’s article on the blog of Harvard Graduate School of Design

Stéphane Thidet et Marcelline Delbecq were two associated artists accompanying the urban planning workshop on the Plaine de Pierrelaye-Bessancourt by Les Ateliers de Cergy, they’ve made this video from their perception of the territory.


The workshop is open to students of master level minimum and to young professionals under 30. Fluency in English is required. All nationalities and fields of work are welcome: architects, geographers, economists, landscape architects, engineers, artists... Given the topic of this workshop, we particularly encourage sociologists, agronomists and environmentalists to apply.

To apply, simply send a CV, complete the attached form and a personal research work (focusing on the topic of the workshop, applied to another site, preferably in the home country or country of residence of the candidate - The goal of this research work is to show a personal position of the topic prior to the workshop. 8 pages A4 or 4 pages A3 maximum) until May 26th included at the following address:
The results of the selection will be announced early June. Registration fees are of 300 euros and cover educational support, visits, accommodation, some meals, university degree from the University of Cergy-Pontoise. They do not cover transportation costs, which are borne by the participants.


March 2013 : call for applications
May 26th 2013 : deadline for applications
Beginning of June 2013 : announcement of the selection of participants
Summer 2013 : publication of the context document
August 30th 2013 : arrival of the participants and start of the workshop
September 27th 2013 : end of the workshop


Pilots: Patrice Berthé and Nicolas Buchoud
Assistant-pilot: Georgia Bagaoui-Meyer
Referees of the Scientific Board of Les Ateliers: Frédérique Vincent, Bertrand Warnier, Maria Basile, Benoît Vernière
Referees of les Ateliers permanent team: Claire Vigé Hélie, Léa Morfoisse, Laïla Haddag


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