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placemaking | Ooze

Category: placemaking+urban social design+video+⚐ EN

Following our recent posts on Théâtre Evolutif in Bordeaux, a project carried out for Evento 2011 to temporarily occupy square André Meunier, this week’s placemaking post is dedicated to the architects Ooze, Eva Pfannes (Würzburg, Germany) and Sylvain Hartenberg (Paris, France).

placemaking | Ooze from ecosistemaurbano on Vimeo.

“Cities aren’t buildings, they’re people”.
– Luis Fernández Galiano

Ooze define architecture and design as natural organisms, ecosystems of interdependent elements belonging to a greater whole: a city, a neighbourhood, a home; an individual. “Architecture and design are vital forms of expression, capable of provoking a broad range of thoughts, experiences, sensations, emotions and memories.”

As architects, Eva and Sylvain have worked on different scales and projects – from exhibition designs and scenographies, temporary interventions and installations like Théâtre Evolutif in Bordeaux (France), Between the Waters in Essen (Germany) or the community garden and kitchen in Amsterdan (Netherlands), to individual housing, and urban scale planning like the Bottrop city development strategy in the Rhur region – including different fields and actors.


Between the waters – Community Garden, and autonomous water treatment system in Essen


Community garden and kitchen, and urban empowerment strategy in Amsterdan

“The process is not so much about designing as it is about emergence.”

As part of our placemaking series, we were particularly interested in these architects’ social commitment, supplanting common designs for a standard mass, to spontaneous and subjective interactions, and individual stories. Ooze describe their first approach of a place as “an archeological research” : what was here before, who is concerned with this space, and who is likely to become so? “The occupants and users of any given space bring their own stories to bear upon it. They draw upon these narratives – their backgrounds and perspectives – to continually recreate the environment in which they find themselves.” Then, architecture is about joining individual details in a larger entity, about building a collective memory around on-going process.

“The process is not so much about designing as it is about emergence.”

With regard to to such perspectives, Ooze was brought to recently participate in urban art festivals, like the Emscherkunst in 2010, and Evento in 2011. Indeed, working on ephemeral interventions allows a more experimental approach, disconnected from the usual official procedures that come with an architectonical project “With the art project you can allow yourself to advance without knowing the outcome”. It allows to experiment, aiming to understand the local and collective identity of a place and different individuals, by observing immediate and spontaneous reactions; then consequently react to real-time issues of the place. Then, the architects’ role goes beyond a punctual intervention, to settle a flexible process and encourage an “informal evolution”, in which people are involved.