Dear Patrick Bloche,
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville, dear Philippe Prost,
Director, dear François Brouat,
Dear National Architecture Strategy Working Group Facilitators and Rapporteurs,
ladies and gentlemen,
A National Strategy for Architecture, my dear friends, for what?
To breathe new life into a policy that was often reduced to the exceptional, that of the great work and the great gesture?
Support and raise a professional world brutally hit by the crisis, the financial crisis and the crisis of the built?
Reopening the horizon for the architects of tomorrow, those who are trained in our schools whose excellence is recognized by all, just as the inventiveness of French architecture is recognized throughout the world?
Give each of our fellow citizens the right to live in a better living environment, or in a transfigured habitat, because it was imagined, designed and made by an architect?
Gathering here at the Paris-Belleville School of Architecture, to present the main measures of this strategy, is already answering the question. Bernard Huet, the founder of these places, who gave his name to this amphitheatre, used to say that "architecture was first and foremost the city," and that "the city was a masterpiece much bigger than any architectural object." Rebelling against monumentality, in his works as in his teaching, he had forged this concept, which you know well, of architectural space. He was interested in the everyday building. He believed in the architecture of everyday life. Not by inhibition, not by lack of ambition, you know this better than I do, but simply because architecture gives meaning to the space in which we live. And if the Minister of Culture is also the Minister of Architects, it is because there is nothing more cultural than giving meaning to the space in which we live.
We must not look elsewhere for the ambition of this National Architecture Strategy, which I am proud to present to you today.
It recognizes how essential the talent of architects is, at this crucial time, to meet the challenges that all French people share: housing, energy transition, improvement of the living environment, aging of men and stones.
It comes to meet the needs of a profession that experiences in its flesh, like many other cultural professions, the great changes that are taking place today. Promoting the architecture of everyday life also means taking care of the daily life of architects.
The strategy responds by drawing a shared vision of what architecture policy must be today, and for years to come. It responds by implementing very concrete solutions on the ground, in the short term and in the longer term. To give meaning to the space in which we live is above all to transform it, and I have no other ambition than to change the cultural daily life of the French.
I wanted this Strategy and announced it as soon as I arrived. I was able to build on the considerable work carried out in 2014 by Patrick Bloche on architectural creation, and the previous year by Vincent Feltesse and Jean-Pierre Duport on teaching and research in architecture. Because we don’t think about the future of architecture without architects, I wanted to entrust its first phase to tradespeople, young or experienced, recipients of the Grand Prix d'Architecture and the Grand Prix d'Urbanisme or winners of the Albums des jeunes architectes et paysagistes.
Thank you to Frédéric Bonnet and Boris Bouchet who reflected with Hélène Riblet on how we could sensitize the French to architecture differently.
Thanks to Marc Barani, Marie Zawistowski and the association Bellastock, who worked with Lorenzo Diez on the possibilities of innovation in architecture and by the architecture.
Finally, thanks to Paul Chemetov and Lucie Niney, who designed the development of architecture with Christine Edeikins.
Without the National Council of the Order and its President, Catherine Jacquot, this reflection would not have had the same scope, nor the same proximity with the daily life of architects.
The Directorate-General for Heritage, and in particular the Directorate for Architecture, have done a decisive job. Allow me to salute the commitment of Vincent Berjot and Agnès Vince. Thanks to Francis Nordemann for coordinating this work and accompanying the facilitators and rapporteurs.
So the measures are there, for some quickly operational measures, particularly those that come directly under my department. For, it must be remembered, if the public policy of architecture is my responsibility, its activity also concerns other fields of intervention of the State. The parliamentary calendar has offered us the opportunity to enact in the law, without wasting time, certain measures that required it: I introduced in the National Assembly, last month, the bill on freedom of creation, architecture and heritage, which will be the great cultural law of the five-year period. And if, in terms of architecture, this text is today a great law, it owes in part to the work of conviction led by its rapporteur, Patrick Bloche, whom I want to greet and strongly thank.
I will not quote in front of you all the measures, divided into six axes – you will discover them in the press kit that will be given to you later – but I would like to give you the most concrete overview possible, because this Strategy has a vocation, I said, to invest and transform the daily life of the French.
Creating a «desire for architecture» is my first objective. In order for it to become a gesture to which we are attentive on a daily basis, and a gesture to which we will have the reflex to turn to transform daily life, everyone must be aware of its cultural value. The European Heritage Days, this year dedicated to the XXIe will have placed its object under the light. They have been a success: the hearts and heads of the general public are therefore prepared. Everyone will have understood that today’s creation is the heritage of tomorrow. As a result, I proposed that a national event celebrating architecture be held each year, the first of which could take place in the fall of 2016. Moreover, if this desire is to be based on solid foundations, because it is fundamental that those who make decisions, instruct building permits or design planning policies should also be able to grasp its full importance, we will propose to put in place training dedicated to the officials of the State and the local authorities and elected officials.
In a world we want to be more sustainable, every building must have several lives. My second objective is to give you the means to work there, especially when this building is remarkable. This is a major issue, which is the transformation architecture. I mentioned this a month ago, when I visited the Ecole nationale supérieure d'architecture de Paris-Val de Seine, which is a success story in this area. This is also the meaning of the call for projects launched by Pierre-René Lemas and the Caisse des Dépôts, to which I very willingly joined, a call designed to invent new architectural solutions for housing, to meet the challenge of the mutability of social housing, ecological transition and demographic transition.
Because the priority remains for me that architecture changes the daily lives of our fellow citizens and in particular that of the most fragile, it is in the priority neighbourhoods that I want this transformation work to be undertaken. Their inhabitants are also entitled to beauty. They also have the right to better understand the environment in which they live and how they can be transformed. We will therefore embark on this path through an even closer partnership with the National Agency for Urban Renewal as part of the next renovation programme. The territorial architectural and heritage services and architectural advisors of the DRAC will provide their expertise to advise the territories on the integration of architectural, urban and landscape aspects in the diagnosis of neighbourhoods. This proposal is part of all the measures of the strategy, which aim to develop architectural intervention, while taking into account the architectural heritage of the XXe and XXIe centuries, a recent heritage that has been recognized in law, by the creation of a “heritage of less than one hundred years”.
If we want architecture to continue to deploy its inventiveness in everyday space, then we must bring together the professional worlds of architecture, construction and living environment. The cultural, scientific, technical success and the influence of architecture is in fact based on the teaching-research-profession tripod, and the schools of architecture are the epicentre. It is to the schools, which are at the heart of the responsibilities of my ministry, that I wanted to dedicate this third axis of the national strategy for architecture.
Among the measures that have been proposed, we will create a teaching-research status, which I have already mentioned. It will preserve the academic and professional anchorage of the teaching staff and enrich the missions of teachers, enhancing their involvement in training and research.
We will also create research partnership chairs, in conjunction with professional and economic stakeholders, to give institutions more visibility. For example, your school, dear François Brouat, will be able to highlight the work of its teams in the area of heritage rehabilitation of the XXe century.
We will also launch a national evaluation of the system of enabling the state-qualified architect to exercise project management in his own name (HMONP). Seven years after it was entrusted to the schools of architecture to deliver it in connection with the Order of Architects, it seems essential to us to know how it is articulated with the initial training, in particular with regard to the qualifications and competences required for recognition in the European Union.
I will be particularly attentive to the widening of the professional situation, because my concern is to enable young architects to enter more easily and on diversified models into working life.
It is the same spirit that presided at the Assises de la Jeune Création, which I initiated last March. Their conclusions can also be found in architecture, since I want to create demonstration sites, incubators, “fablab” or “coworking” workspaces in architecture schools. Some responded to the first call for projects, the winners of which were selected last week. In this matter, as in others, I want to move quickly. All of the proposals are designed to support young professionals in the early stages of their careers, to bring architectural innovations to all construction and development companies, and to anchor research in the demands and challenges of everyday life.
This daily life, this lived space, the French precisely want it to improve and transform, whatever the territory in which they live. Whether it’s their home, their neighbourhood or the subdivision they live in, you’re sometimes the only ones who can give them answers. My responsibility is to encourage them to call on you. That is my fourth objective. You know what the most ambitious provisions are: we have included them in the legislation, with the help of Patrick Bloche. It is the architect’s intervention for development permits for subdivisions. It is the lowering of the threshold of obligatory recourse to an architect to 150 m². The first is essential if we are to evolve a development model that is further distorting our country’s landscapes every year. The second is just as important if we want everyone to benefit, in their private environment, from the new opportunities that architectural solutions bring. I’m thinking in particular of thermal insulation, low-energy buildings, and everything related to green transition. And you will always bring to the living environment an aesthetic dimension that will transform it as much as it will give it new meaning and pride. The imperative of the ecological transition is finally what motivates our desire to reaffirm the missions of the architectural, urban and environmental councils, which contribute in a major way to make architecture accessible to all.
Making architecture accessible to all: this is once again, economically speaking, the work we have to do. That is my fifth objective. Because the French still hesitate, too often, to call on you. Some believe, mostly out of ignorance, that the intervention of an architect will inflate the price of a project, without giving more value to the building they renovate or build. We must prove the contrary, show that besides the obvious improvement of their living environment, they will also benefit from your intervention. That is why we will launch a study mission on the economic value of architecture.
Yes, we will measure the benefit it brings to everyone. And we will see that this benefit applies to society as a whole. Your work will play a key role in the sustainable growth model we are inventing for years to come. We will therefore work with the Conseil de l'ordre to imagine the profession of tomorrow.
But our responsibility is also to act so that architects can live from their profession today. I am thinking here, in particular, of young architects who face real difficulties in the early years of their careers. In this respect, public procurement must play its role as an example. That is why I want young agencies to have easier access to orders. Because it is a collective responsibility, we wanted to encourage more intergenerational solidarity and sponsorship, in the continuation of the Assises de la Jeune Création.
We will also work to strengthen the presence of young architects in international competitions and prizes, in conjunction with the French Institute. Symbolically, the call for proposals for the selection of the curator of the French pavilion for the next Venice Biennale encourages the candidacy of a team including an architect under 40 years old. All of this contributes to raising the profile of French talent throughout the country and around the world and to developing its full economic potential.
If we want, finally, to allow everyone to see what the architect is capable of, to transform daily life, on the level of the living environment as on the aesthetic level, we must give him the opportunity to experiment. I know I don’t need to convince you about this. Offering this opportunity to creators, so that all French people can take advantage of it, is the first responsibility I have given myself as Minister of Culture and Communication, and this is my sixth objective. Among the essential measures, it will of course be to experiment the famous «licence to make», which we have included in the law, with the assistance of Patrick Bloche.
As you can see, the National Strategy for Architecture will help promote and transform everyday architecture, as well as improve the everyday lives of architects. This presentation is a first step. The Strategy is not behind us; it is before us. It will be rolled out gradually, depending on the nature of the measures we have taken, with the adoption of the law, the launch of regulatory projects, calls for projects and expressions of interest, incentives and value-added measures.
Because a project of this scope only makes sense if it is carefully followed by all those who have contributed to it, we will do next year, on the occasion of the first national meeting of architecture, an update on the progress of actions and projects of the Strategy and we will update the commitments.
The services of my ministry, and in particular the decentralized services, will be fully mobilized to deploy the strategy on the ground. Rest assured. The operators of the Ministry of Culture, starting with the OPPIC, will be involved, because I hope that for its implementation, the State will be at the forefront, and that it will be exemplary. I’ll see to it.
However, my conviction is that its implementation will not succeed without you. So we will continue with you, with all those who have already helped to design it, in the working groups. We will pursue it with all those who want to join this dynamic. I am thinking, for example, of the Atelier International du Grand Paris, the ideal testing ground for the future of the Capital Region. I am also thinking of the City of Architecture and Heritage, which I hope will be a major partner of the Strategy for Architecture in its various areas. It will thus contribute, for the French as well as for the whole world, to the effective dissemination and enhancement of French architectural creation.
Because architecture does not belong only to architects, we will also pursue the implementation of the Strategy with all those who are directly concerned by these projects: elected officials, civil society, private actors, professionals in the design of the living environment. For the solutions invented by the architecture to be deployed, its recognition must be shared by the greatest number.
Architecture institutions, in all their components, administrative, educational and scientific, as well as students in schools, will also be closely involved in the implementation of the strategy. Because some of the measures concern them in the first place, I mentioned them, and because they also have a vocation to be inventive and robust actors in their territory.
My dear friends, In the French space, architecture is already everywhere. It makes us proud, it makes us strong, it is recognized abroad, thanks to your talent, thanks to your work. My deepest wish is to make it more visible. To make it continue to reinvent itself and redeploy itself. In short, let it continue to do what it does best: not only to transform daily life – and this is already a lot – not only to embellish it – and it is already essential – but to give meaning to the daily space in which we live. This National Strategy for Architecture, I have the immovability to believe it, will contribute to it.