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participatory programming

Methodology

An institution is diverse in terms of the courses it offers, its students, its timetables, the size of its groups and the profiles of its teaching staff. So, it’s vital to co-create with all of the users in order to define a project that takes account of this diversity. Traditionally, a program is designed in the following way:

PLACE = FUNCTION = USE(S)

To adapt to new learning methods, we are proposing to do away with the permanent assignment of a place to a function. Functions are mobile and people move around depending on the activity they carry out and subsequently find the right place. We define places with a strong spatial character, designed to accommodate use  instead of function.

PLACE = USES, FUNCTION IS MOBILE

The proposed project is the fruit of collaboration between its various users and the architects. To facilitate the discussion and get the participants out of a spatial situation that they have no control over, we have created a whole series of graphics to explain the method.

 

copyright Johnny Umans

Participatory programming

Together with the CPFB, we initiated a detailed study of the different uses for the building in order to define the optimal setting (quiet/loud – formal/informal – individual/group – large/small – confidential/open – fixed/mobile). We also researched working positions, on a human scale, fit for a specific task and tool in order to define the most suitable spaces and furniture.

Designing spaces to accommodate diverse uses involves a detailed analysis of what is done (or could be done) on a daily basis within the institution. For this, participative programming is an essential tool, but it must be accompanied by graphic documents tailored to the user’s needs. Users don’t always know what they exactly need, they don’t always know what is exactly bothering them in a space and refer only to the solutions they already know. On the other hand, users know their job, their habits, what they would like to do, etc. Focusing participatory programming on types of usage has enabled us to obtain information that is suited to an activity-based design process.

It takes the form of 3 workshops offered to each of the 3 working groups: administration, management and teachers/students.

The first workshop was used to gather information. Grids are filled in, covering group dynamics, working positions, relationships, tools, etc. The aim is to understand the needs of users, to understand what they do, why they do it, how they do it and what would be the ideal way of doing it.

Once we have analyzed and organized the information gathered to create places capable of accommodating the various uses of the CPFB, we can begin the second workshop, which consists of validating or reworking these places.

It’s important to point out that at this stage, we’re not yet talking about spatiality, we’re developing type-spaces (example: multi-purpose space for 20 people + collaboration: writable walls, mobile furniture, etc.).

The last workshop was an opportunity to structure the spaces. We discuss their place in the institution, their relationship to the public space, their relationship to students, etc. The aim is to understand the hierarchy between places, possible sharing of space and the desired proximity.

Once the conclusions of this last workshop were validated, we finally started designing.

 

Gallery of images

participatory programming
participatory programming
participatory programming

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A well-thought-out renovation

The building has had several lives. Originally the post office of Louvain-la-Neuve, it housed several UCL training courses until its last occupation as a ‘ school for sound’. Over-compartmentalized and acoustically insulated to meet recording studio standards, the clarity of the architecture and the simplicity of its materials was lost.

The first task was to dismantle the building in order to lay it bare: salvaging any concrete that could be salvaged, restoring the color of the brickwork, preserving the joinery and frames, etc.

The proposed project restores the fluidity of the building by revealing the structure. The volumes are decompartmentalized both functionally and spatially. The height of the roofs and the interplay of the beams and the light of the glass bricks in the roof are recovered. Circulation has been simplified and a large open space has been moved to the rear façade and transformed into a tiered seating area.

The aim of the renovation strategy is to restore the building to its pristine condition, while providing it with the technology and thermal comfort needed for the next 30 years. In the interests of doing so, we are only intervening on walls that were previously modified. The east facade is the only facade that we are modifying, in order to allow the continuity of spaces on the ground floor.

On the ground floor, you enter a social area with the reception desk. The entrance continues into the multi-purpose area, comprising 3 areas (work alcoves, a work room for 50 people and a work room for 10 people) and opening onto the small square Place du Pont aux Ânes.

Upstairs, there is a collaboration room for group work and an auditorium for informal work during breaks between courses. There are also rooms with more fixed layouts like the auditoriums and the collaborative lab. Finally, there is the administration area, extended by a talking area and a recording studio.

Once the materiality and volumetry had been rediscovered, a smooth concrete screed was poured to restore some of original character of the spaces. We also played with more graphic elements: the joinery is lightened to contrast with the existing darker colors, the yellow of the staircase contrasts with the red bricks. These contrasts demonstrate our search to enhance the existing features of the building and bring them back to life.

The aim of the renovation strategy is to restore the building to its pristine condition, while providing it with the technology and thermal comfort needed for the next 30 years.

Sophie Laborde architect
copyright Johnny Umans

Gallery of images

copyright Johnny Umans
copyright Johnny Umans
copyright Johnny Umans

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