LOCATION  Stains, France
CONTEXT  EUROPAN 11 Competition
STATUS  Runner-up
TEAM  Oscar Gential, Elise Avide, Raphaelle Bernabei, Benjamin Bosselut, Yohan Demasse, Philippe Gaudias
DATE  June 2011 / December 2011

The twenty-first century is a metropolitan one, with the Greater Paris as a vas turban network. Its ambitious transport projects complete the historical radial network. Stains is at the centre of the process: from a stop on a historical line to a node in a dense network with the arrival of the “Tangentielle Légère Nord” TLN and the extension of the metro line 13. With this new accessibility, the metropolitan life becomes possible.

Nevertheless, can the 34.000 inhabitants of Stains boast about how hyper-connected their city is? In fact, the way the different urban programs were put newt to each other separately resulted in a fragmented, if not impermeable territory. Abandoned places reveal themselves and act like urban frontiers and lower the accessibility. 
But the transport network must transfigure the train station – symbolic doorway of the territory – and irrigate Stains. And what if this was the opportunity in Stains to reconsider the urban planning through the mobilities? Through the walkable space, that is to say, through the voids?

The city of Stains has been the laboratory of the urban paradigms of the last century. From the Garden City to “Grands Ensembles”, the most diverse programs rose up. Its heritage offers a real diversity in the urban forms. This must be taken as a chance. 

Instead of proposing a new “absolute vision” of the urbanity or a tabula rasa, we think that the transformation of the “voids” neglected in the city is the most appropriate way to reinvent the urban life in Stains. These unconstructed spaces with an undefined status have the potential to give coherence to the pluralistic urbanity. 
Thinking urban planning through the void offers different possibilities:
The void is the transit space. As a circulatory system, it acquires a status, become practicable. It irrigates the transport hub, from the doorways of the train to those of the buildings.
The void qualifies the programs. It designs their environment and gives them their representation. For example, the “Grands Ensembles” are perceived through the undefined space that surrounds them. 

The void imposes the upgradability. Processes and diagrams are the ways to transcend the rigidity of the plan. This is our methodological vision.

The future of Stains is an extrapolation of the Garden City of the past. At the end of the n
ineteenth century, Ebezener Howard defined it as a rational, hygienist and self-sufficient city. Its autonomy was not a sign of isolation, as it was connected to other garden cities and to the bigger urban centre. But in the context of a Greater Paris with a new metropolitan network, the connections are not that rational anymore. The life of the inhabitants of Stains cannot be restricted to the city limits.  

The hyper-connectivity must replace the autonomy. Thus, our project site must be considered as en entity interacting with all the different components of the metropolis, in logic of complementarity and not of self-sufficiency. 

Two sites. The Cerisaie’s area heterogeneous layout forces us to think the two sites differently. In order to develop their relationships and their improvement, we propose a project based on the design of voids.

The workers garden are a wealth for the territory, they have a social and economic usefulness for the inhabitants of Stains today. Our approach consists in reinforcing their integrating role in the city but also in allowing the blossoming of a new urban fraction of the metropolis. The neglected spaces in the surrounding urban environment will allow the relocation and the creation of little grapes of gardens, fostering the interactions between the inhabitants, the employees, the visitors. Each urban actor, owner of a piece of land will be able to contribute.

There is no rush in the transformation of this part of the project site: the process must take the time needed for its appropriation by each user, inhabitant or actor.
26 acres of voids, situated around the 2.4 acres of actual gardens location can allow this relocation and even the creation of new gardens. 
Under the aegis of Plaine Commune and the town council of Stains, the different actors “owning” these voids, such as the social housing agencies, the RATP, SNCF and RFF, or the firms, settle with users and the national federation for collective and familial gardens of the transfer and the creation of the gardens.

Today, this site is constituted of a multiplicity of small lots. The future urban framework leans on fragmentation to design the future streets and micro voids. 
It will set term for the future urban development: small operations, from the self-construction to the little single or collective housing, with a diversified architecture adapted to the new public spaces

Planning of the second strategic site – the “Lentille” – has to be thought on the short term. As a place that concentrates the catalyzer of densification (arrival of the TLN in the short term and the metro line 13), this site offers the opportunity to rethink the transports projects in a global way. This situation justifies the progressive transition from an unexploited place to a space of compacity, optimizing the interface and the diffusion of flows. 
A traffic system of buses is implemented. It forecasts a bridge crossing the rails in the west “Lentille” – one way, buses can go on the RD 29 in the opposite sense. This set up provides to the “Lentille” a special identity. 

By identifying the structuring voids, the full are defined by these voids.
Planning full by voids is good to avoid an urban shape reduced to the block. 

RATP’s project on the site is also an opportunity to plan in an other way. We need to multiply the urban functions. The project represents the opportunity to develop new facilities: metropolitan, sport fields, car park, offices, etc.

A "full" void is going through blocks of the Grand Ensemble “la Pretresse” linking the “Lentille” to the city centre of Stains. Overcoming the failure of the handling of the voids of the Grand Ensemble, this continuity is a better way to rethink the balance between the building and its environment. Welcoming public facilities, this void in perpetual motion offers the possibility of an intense and participative programmation.

The overprogrammation of the identified voids around the transport hub provides the best conditions for a better mobility. The management of the void in its thickness helps a vertical planning of the different transport modes: the underground, the train on the surface and the buses on the bridge and the existing RD 29. Continuity, optimal management of the flows and visibility between the different components of the hub (platforms, bus stops, etc.) allows the integration and the diffusion with the train station in a widen public space, transcending the infrastructure

The coherence given to the different voids on the north side of the railroad tracks leads to the identification of a pedestrian transit corridor, whose ambition is to diffuse the amenities of the Parc de la Courneuve on the project site and even further.

The three voids are developed around the future station of TLN, along the Grande Pretresse and in direction of the Courneuve Park.

Two processes are engaged in the same time.
One short and volunteer for the urban development of the “Lentille” to anticipate and participate of the increase of public transport offer.
The other long and participative on the displacement of the allotment gardens diffused in the abandoned places around and on the progressive planning of the places made free.