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Inside | Outside

CitĂŠ Parc | Charleroi Jeanne Mosseray | Promotor Prof. Bruno De Meulder

Urbanisms of Inclusion Inside | Outside CitĂŠ Parc | Charleroi Jeanne Mosseray Thesis submitted to obtain the degree Urbanism And Stratagic Spatial Planning Academic year: 2011-2012 Promotor: Prof. Bruno De Meulder Readers: Prof. Kelly Shannon Else Vervloesem Christian Nollf

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Faculty of Engineering Department of Architecture, Urbanism and Planning [ASRO]

Firstly thanks to the CitÊ Parc inhabitants for intrucing me to their life, Thanks to Karim, Cynthia, Maddy, women of the senior center, concierge of the sport complexe l’Asie. A special thanks to Nathalie and her mother for their time and attention. I would like to thank my professors from KULeuven who deepened my interest in urban issue My sincere gratitude to my promotor Bruno De Meulder who opened new horizons in this project and during these past two years. I am very thankful to him for this experience. Grateful thanks to Bieke Cattoor, Kelly Shannon and Christian Nolf for their relevant comments and their attention on my work. Thanks to my family and friends who supported me throughout the process of the Master in Urbanism and Strategic Planning. Thanks to Josh for reading and re-reading and to Ivette for her help with photography. A special thanks to Baptiste for his encouragement and strong support. And finally thanks to my KULeuven colleagues for the atmosphere that they have been creating during this past two years.

NOTES INTRO 1 | Thesis structure 2 | Methodology 3 | Hypothesis 4 | Statement from Schoonbrodt 5 | Social housing: an industrial heritage Workers’ housing Garden cities Modern social housing 7 | Concluding question


1 | Identity theory 2 | Negative identity 3 | Territorial identity 4 | Sense of belonging 5 | Generational identity 6 | Concluding question


|FROM ENCLAVE TO SYSTEM 1 | Reaction to the negative identity 2 | Potentialities of the site 3 | Opening up towards the avenue 4 | A valley path 5 | Concluding question


AN INSIDE EQUILIBRIUM 1 | Informal economy 2 | Leisure activities 3 | Mobility 4 | Blurred spaces 5 | Parking lots 6 | Concluding question


INTERACTION 1 | Strategy 2 2 | Playing with topography 3 | “objet trouvé” 5 | Conclusion





A study carryed out in 2006 by a group of researchers from different belgian universities classified Charleroi as well as the entire Hainaut industrial dorsal as one region where the most precarious population, or those living in most unpredictable and insecure conditions, are gathered. The main problems concern incomes, health and unemployement and are mainly located near industrial platforms or derelict coal mine sites. Some quarters of Charleroi gather the highest percentage of immigrants coming from poor countries.


The research highlights the difficult life conditions identified in some social housings that settle immigrant as well as native population. The situation of the southern rural area constitutes a different typology and have not been touched by the same symptoms described earlier. The focus area of this thesis is the social housing localized at the edge of the difficult condition zone. [Analyse dynamique des quartiers en difficultĂŠ, 2006]

220-1000 inhab./km2 1000-2000 2000-2750 2750-3500 3500-5800

7,8-15% 15,1-19% 19,1-23% 23,1-27% 27,1-36,6%

no social housing 0,7-4,5% 4,5-11,5% 11,5-20,5% 20,5-33,5% 33,5-64,4%

> Density and Social Housing maps [Atlas geostatistique des quartiers, 2000]; Unemployment map [Traitement géographique-Espace Environment, 2010]

La Cité Parc

> Map resulting from an analysis of 22 variables defining a gradient of the population’s precariouness conditions. Les grandes villes; Indice synthétique [Analyse dynamique des quartiers en difficulté dans les régions urbaines belges, 2006]


1 | Thesis structure 2 | Methodology: interviews & “participant observation” 3 | Hypothesis 4 | Statement from Schoonbrodt 5 | Social housing: an industrial heritage Workers’ housing Garden cities Modern social housing 6 | Concluding question

> Coron de charbonnage près de Chatelineau [Photograph Pierre Bertrand, In Pays de Charleroi]



I. 1| Thesis structure

strategy and then re-questions its impact on the social site logics. The methodology goes continuously back and forth between analysis/description - design proposition – impact on the site – bringing more ambitions and details to the design proposition.

This thesis work is divided in two parts. The first section targets the issue of social housing in general and brings some personal questioning. This part is mainly formed of literature analysis, theories on social exclusion/inclusion and historical analysis of the housing “production” in the Belgian welfare state.

The thesis tries to provide a well structured understanding and reading of the site even if, in reality, the analysis, the interpretation and the design strategies have been developed together, zooming in and out and have constantly influenced each other.

The second part is composed of two elements that inter connect: analysis of the fieldwork & design strategies. The ethnographical analysis of the site itself leads to a first design IDENTITY CONSTATATION








negative identity


territorial identity




_DISTRACTING POINTS sense of belonging







generation identity


> Diagram of the thesis process: the ethnographical analysis defined four identities that influence spatial behaviors and interactions that lead to two scales of design strategy. From social to spatial logics.



2| Methodology

This thesis is a personal attempt to bring together my first degree in Anthropology and the Urbanism field by, on one hand, looking at a postindustrial city, its landscape, infrastructures and housing “relics” and, on the other hand, analyzing a specific modern social housing. I started the research by going to La cité parc in Marcinelle, a former municipality that is today part of Charleroi. I started an ethnographic fieldwork to have an understanding of the site, of the social relations, issues and logics that compose the social life of the neighborhood. The fieldwork started together with readings and the construction of the first hypothesis. When I looked at the implementation and the abundance of social housings in Charleroi being directly linked to the industrial past of the area, the workers and social housing became a main interest for me. The combination of housing inherited from a glorious industrial period and the current crisis of exclusion and unemployment associated with that same housing caught my attention. I then looked more carefully at site on which I performed microanalysis and developed a design strategy. I had my first contact with inhabitants through the ‘senior club’ of the housing. Then I met different people involved in on site facilities or those directly related to it. The site accommodates many facilities, some of them were built together with the housing project (primary school, kindergarten, the office of the social housing, community center), others have been imagined together with the project


but were built later on (swimming pool/sport facilities) and others were built in answer to new needs (police, youth house) or by accident/chance (dog training). Therefore I began to grasp the life of the “cité”. However the housing inhabitants were not represented through these activities. By walking around often, meeting people on the street, in the hall of the towers, etc... and then speaking with one inhabitant after another, I improved my understanding of the real life inside of the cité. Interviews took place with one representative or user of each “facility/activity” present on site. Then through my unplanned meetings I could organize real interviews. I performed four semi-directed interviews. The discussions were neither oriented, nor were they prepared. The interviewee knew that the subject of my research was about space and use of space. Therefore the discussion always started with the “cité”; where people meet, what people do, how do they behave in the public space… The interviews then became closer to recitations of life-stories rather than classic interviews. Only two of them has been recorded. I interviewed three women (Nathalie 24, Cyntia 40, Maddy 67 years old) and one young man (Karim +/-27years old). Nathalie has been a “privileged informer”. She introduced me to many others, she spent a great amount of time explaining her life to me and “the life in the cité”. I could contact her again if needed during the writing and mapping periods of the research.

> Fieldwork and timetable (red: fieldwork times; dashed: meetings with experts)

Social assistant, bus n°1 22/02/2012

walking on the way to the laundry 14/03/2012

centre d’actions laiques 01/03/2012 05/04/2012 Yvon, block 2 06/03/2012

walking with eldery 06/04/2012

Dog walker, alley 11/04/2012

“senior” center 22/02/2012 Maddy, block 14 29/02/2012

inhabitants 14/05/2012

block 6 concierge 05/04/2012 Inhabitants, hall block 6 inhabitants neighbor 03/04/2012 14/05/2012 Nathalie, block 6 13/03/2012 07/04/2012 block 14 concierge /02/2012 Youth, in their car 12/04/2012 Karim school principal 12/04/2012 /02/2012 Cynthia, block 12 13/04/2012

Vany, bench 06/04/2012

neighbor 13/03/2012

creche 29/02/2012 sport complex 29/02/2012




social housing company 22/02/2012 14/03/2012 23/05/2012 MARCH



youth center 05/03/2012 02/04/2012


3| Hypothesis The “cité1” can be envisioned as a social inclusion tool since the social housing has been developed in order to give people access to housing that could not afford in the private sector. The first kind of social housing appeared in Belgium together with industry. Industrialization opened up cities to urban immigration, bringing workers near to production sites. The dwelling was supposed to be a step of inclusion to the society. However, today in the Walloon media, the modernist social housings are depicted as spatially and socially excluded, as ghettos, no-right spaces… Unconsciously people often see these sites as inaccessible. They know them, they have heard about them but they cannot locate them, even if these “entities” are settled in the same municipality. Does the social housing not fulfill its first duty of inclusion and, even more, contradict it by being, in a way, anti-social? I based my first question on this assessment, I made the hypothesis that by transforming the spatial accessibility of the housing, the exclusion situation will be reversed. For example, by changing the blind alleys into an axis that passes through the neighborhood, we could maybe bring diversity into the housing.

> Opening up the impass to desenclave the housing

1_Cité in French comes from “cité sociale” referring to modern social housing. The word cité will be used many times, due to the fact that the population is very attached to that word, referring to homogenous housing typology of the French grand ensembles and to the 90’s banlieue crisis, even if the Belgian cités are different in scale and in implementation. 16

4| Schoonbrodt’s assessment René Schoonbrodt made the first and the only socio-analysis of the social housing in Brussels and Wallonia. One of his main conclusions intrigate me. He argues that the social housing spatial context (inhabitants living near to each other and sharing the same socio-economic profile) has a negative impact on their participation in the neighborhood. super market (Aldi)

super market (Lidl)




“La base de l’échange entre voisins souffre de la ressemblance des situations. En adoptant une position idéologique, on pourrait penser que cette similitude des conditions socio-économiques devrait constituer une base suffisante pour faire groupe, mouvement, association ou simplement vie sociale interpersonnelle. Mais il apparaît que, de fait, une ressemblance trop grande écarte au lieu de rapprocher, comme si l’autre, vrai reflet de soi-même, renvoyait à soi-même avec les mêmes limitations, la même condition sociale et culturelle… alors à quoi bon.» (Schoondrodt, 1979)


From this assessment, and since the modern «grandensemble» was imagined as an «all included» entity; with school, kindergarten, church, super-market, sport complex, senior center, community building, the original discussion on social housing should be reevaluated. Therefore, the impact of the distance (between daily activities, work, living, leisure places) and the diversity of people met through these activities should also be increased. To what extent does the eternal discussion on mixity and diversity fit the current social housing condition? > Different public facilities around the social housing and frequencies of cité inhabitants uses (darker: infrequently used by cité inhabitants to lighter frenquently used by cité inhabitants)


5| Inherited Frame: from industrial period to social housing crisis The problem revealed today in many social housings is directly related to the deindustrialization and the unemployment crisis. The industrialization period had a “habit” of creating settlements of workers housing in its sprawl. The relation between these housings and the labor forces and their implementation are discussed today. The issues evolved together during their respective periods: from the industrial period with the workers struggle to today’s post industrial issues of exclusion and “the city question”. “In the 50’s and the 60’s, the French working class suburbs constituted real social communities: “a community logic built around a popular culture, a class-conscious and a logic of social participation.” Then these neighborhoods changed with the industrial decline and the professional break-up of the working class toward a disconnection between the youth belonging and a working-class belonging. Today, with the decline of the traditional organization of these communities and the weakening of the working-class (trade union, association, parties…) they are identified more frequently to urban violence (e.g. riots in 80’s in France), to revolt without hope, without project. (…) This rage without project, destroying and breaking, is no longer transform into movement. The social politics serve to re-integrate poor and unemployed population through work. This work gives an income, promotes the development of an identity and encourages citizen participation. In an industrial society, social and economic progress go hand in hand, nevertheless, since the 80’s, the two are divided. The welfare state does not adjust the old system sources of

social inequity. Worse, the poverty does not disappear but rather changes in nature. Poverty becomes exclusion relegating part of the population out of the work market and drifting entire neighborhood.” (Favreau, 1993)

The social question becomes a spatial question Dubet and Lapeyronnie highlight that living near to each other was a spatial advantage for the working class and created a strong organization around the workers’ struggle (Lutte ouvrière). Today it becomes a spatial disadvantage gathering “excluded population” in the same spot. Another effect is related to the occupancy and occupation of this population. Today, spaces that were imagined to be in use 1/3 of their day1 do not correspond anymore with the current usages. The density and the accommodation had been imagined on the grounds that people leaving their house 2/3 of their daily time (meeting and creating a union power to articulate their needs and demands and keeping up a worker culture). The occupancy of this same housing by a population who, for a majority, has no occupation becomes a real issue of designed space. In terms of spatial disqualification, the place that is actively disqualified is the one that is inherited from the modernist period. At the end of the literature and spatial analysis, I identified differences between modern social housings and those from before the 60’s that have been designed different ideologies. Furthermore, between and after the wars many social housings have been sold to balance the deficit of the state, which explains the difference in their ownership condition.

1_Victor Bourgeois (De Cooman, Bourgeois, 1946) gives his analysis of the labor force dailylife. Their are divide in three: 1/3 working, 1/3 leisure, 1/3 house. 18

Nowadays the policies against spatial exclusion fight against the spatial condition and context brought by modernist ideas. Towers are usually transformed into urban blocks; the circulation is reinvented to “disenclave” (open up) and to create more “urbanity” (in the sense of an urban tissue). Nicolas Michelin discusses the current discourse supporting the transformation of towers into urban block/tissue (“de la barre à l’ilot”). He argues in favor of the recognition of a quantity of uses through the different territories that do not seem to be considered by this transformation. “Nothing idyllic but a great quality in the uses and a respect between different territories. These places were not qualified and neither recognized, but they were waiting to be taken into consideration. Even if some uses could be considered as fragile (“precarious”) or not well defined, we should admit their potentiality. The inhabitants have made something else out of their “cité”. They have contaminated it bit by bit and reversed it from its prevision.”1

In the worst cases, following current common usages, the towers are demolished. The high density of unemployed population produces troubles12 that the landlords cannot face anymore. Therefore, the relocation of the tenants remains an important issue. Since generally the re-building cannot be afforded by the landlord, he usually ends the contract sending his tenants to other social agencies and destroying the last solidarities that they may have been relying on.

abandonment of their living environment, the sacrifice of personal links or of a collective identity are not justified by the improvement of relative living conditions.”2

The second important policy that touches social housing field is the decentralization. Decentralization is an attempt to be as near as the population as possible, to fit their real needs and to hear how they live. This philosophical concept has a major influence on the social housing spatial condition. For instance, decentralization is embedded in the social assistance given to that population: today the inhabitants of social housing are for the majority considered as population in precarious condition, the social housing together with social assistance is the policies‘ answer on the issue. This assistance is decentralized and sometimes even includes “home deliveries”. They become so near to the population that sometimes to get any help, the beneficiary (recipient) no longer needs to leave his dwelling. In this home delivery relation, the population becomes more and more immobile and decreases its exterior contacts.

“By isolating families and individuals, the improvement of the housing condition destroys solidarities and deconstructs identities. The defense of the population and their identities is not only about increasing their living standards. Numbers of fragile population have sometimes more to lose than to gain in this process. The 1_(Michelin, 2002) Translated by the author. 2_ (Dubet, Lappeyronnie, 1992) Translated by the author. 19

The following pages are repertory of the different workers housing, garden cities and modern social housing located in Charleroi. Located according their period of implementation this mapping exercice was an attempt to quantify the amount of social housing developped through the different stage of Charleroi history. The mapping have been done based on the analysis of housing typology on aerial views, by going on site and thanks to the work done by EcomusĂŠe, Bois du Luc to identify the remaining patrimony from the industrial era. These three maps name every housing of the south of Charleroi developed together with the social ambition. A small part of this repertory still being owned by the SociĂŠtĂŠ Wallonne du Logement.



1850-1930 workers’ housing Rue de Chatelet [Ecomusée]

22 Coron avenue Mascaux

rue de Chatelet

cour Orban

rue du petit coron

Place Verstappen

Le Spignat Cité du Nord (mulhouse) hameau Saint-Fiacre rues Jacquin et Gottignies

rue Julien Durant

Cité du nord [Google street]

rue Vital Françoise

Cité spignat [Ecomusée]

Workers housings & Industries

Workers housings tram and railway

Workers housings/an industrial period

corons rue des trieux

rue docteur Louis Henry

coron rue de Loverval

Place Verstappen [Google street]

rue de Montigny

rue des sangliers [Google street]

CitĂŠ Selestat

Location of the workers housings

Workers’housing have been implementated next to industry. Industries were providing houses to immigrants from the countryside to move in the city to work.


24 Cité Gailly

Cité Chavée

Cité des resistants Coron des cantonniers Cité Villez


(Rues Barbieux, Godsiabois et du Gros Buisson)

(rue champs des Charbonnières)

Cité Europe

rue Herbert Hoover

Le Moria

Mon logis

Matadi, Le Spignat, Cité-parc Louis Leriche

chemin du hameau

Le calvaire

Cité du scapé

Cité de Malfalise Cité Joseph Henry

Cité terrienne

Cité Couillet Queue [Google street]

rues des bouleaux, des pruniers, des roses, des pommiers, des mineurs

Grande Chenevière

Cité Belle Vue

Cité Empain

rue du foyer

Cité de l’enfance

Cité de l’enfence []

garden cities

Garden cities & Green areas

Garden cities & Centers

Cité heureuse

rue du gouffre

Garden cities were implemented with a distance from the cities center and in the green areas. Most of them have been localised according to the topography and an advantageous position vis-à-vis of the sun. rue coron du gouffre

Cité des frères réunis

Cité fiestaux [Google street]

Cité Cité Selestat coron rue Decoux

route de Chatelet

rue du marais , chaussée de Chatelineau

Cité-jardin “Les Fiestaux”

Cité Solvay

Cité-jardin “L’Amérique”

rue du Ry Oursel rue de l’energie

Garden cities in topography



Cité des oiseaux


modern social housing


Cité Belle Vue

Cité parc

Cité les Gonceries

rue Roland Delattre et rue Alfred Tenret

rues des aciers, de la siderirgie, des hauts fourneaux

Cité Emile Demoulin

Cité hameau


Cité du Foyer

Cité Tout vent

Cité des oiseaux [Google street] Cité Parc


Railway + Modern ringroad

Infrastructures + Terrils = Barriers

Cité des chasseurs

Cité Belle-vue [Google street]

Cité de Bouffioulx

Cité les haies “campagne des marchands”

Cité de la Blanche Borne

Cité Yernaux

Cité-jardin “La Queue” Corons Couillet Village

Cité Europe

Housing & Barriers

Modern social housing have been implemented mostly in the leftover space of the industries, that consequently are also located near to big infrastructure, that today can be considered as a sort of barrier.



> Illustration of current policy: deconstructing floors or demolishing towers in favor of urban tissue


In the literature, the metaphor used for the modernist social housing refers to enclaves, fragments, detaches, ghettos‌ These commons ideas lead me to two questions. First, can we speak about one reality appearing in the social housing, as being a ghetto? Is there any adaptation or bricolage of the population defining a more refined life condition than these expressions suggest?

These territories can be seen as other realities than “enclaved�, the next section will show the tension and complexity of the stereotype. Second, as we saw through the historical analysis of the housings implementation, the spatial conditions that correspond to industrial logics no longer make sense. How can we today give a positive meaning to these spatial

conditions and to this memory? And transform the social housing into an active inclusive tool? How could we reuse potentiality of the modernist utopian ideology, of the social housing as a specific value and as a relic?




> View of La CitĂŠ Parc from the terril bordering it 31

La Cité Parc_+/-900 dwellings: apartments in 6 blocks, houses for elderly people, “alleys”, bel-étage houses) equivalent to +/-2000 inhabitants.


> View of La CitĂŠ Parc from inside



1 | Identity theory 2 | Negative identity 3 | Territorial identity 4 | Sense of belonging 5 | Generational identity 6 | Concluding question

35 > Collage of impression of the social housing made of pictures of the housing



1 | Identity theory During the ethnographic fieldwork and in the literature, the issue of the identities was highlighted many times. The common discourses about social and spatial exclusion relate to the presence of an identity of excluded, outcasted population. Also from the media and stereotypes, we imagine that social housing gathers people in the same place and that those sharing same social and economic conditions would also share a strong identity of belonging. To make the distinction between stereotypes and social processes, the issue of the identity will be discussed in this section. The social housing as an industrial production has been the reservoir of identity development. Reusing the Durkheim terminology, I tried to define and frame the different identities observed on site. Emile Durkheim sees that with the industrialization era, the arrival of the modern society was characterized by a shift from mechanic solidarity to an organic one. The mechanic was based on proximity, resemblance and sharing of common values. Differently, the modern (organic) solidarity implies an individualization process, the division of the labor force. If the mechanic solidarity corresponds to traditional society, “it is possible to see inside the industrial workers neighborhoods the maintenance of social links” resulting from homogeneity of practices and beliefs reinforced by sharing similar social conditions.

mechanic solidarity

organic solidarity

Cité parc identities

In the case of the modern social housing cité parc, I identified four different processes of identification: a negative identity; a territorial identity; a sense of belonging and a generational belonging. These different identities correspond to a hybrid kind of solidarity defined by Durkheim. Part of these identities are shared following a mechanical logic, while others correspond to a much more contemporary individualization process. 37

“Oh la Cité… non! Moi j’irai jamais habiter à la cité parc, c’est euh…” impersonates Nathalie. Mais non! Non, bien au contraire, je crois qu’on est encore mieux que certain à l’extérieur, qui habite à l’extérieur. (…) C’est comme la cité de Liège, qu’y a eu énormément de choses [events depicted by media]. Tu vois! Et bien c’est un peu pareil, les gens ils mettent la cité de liège dans un cercle fermé! Mais si on essaye pas d’y accéder et de chercher à comprendre comment les gens fonctionnent, à s’intéresser aux gens.. tu peux pas savoir, tu peux pas rester bloquer devant “Oh non telle cité ou telle cité..” Mais, dans un sens, on emmerde les gens. Dans l’autre, bien sûr que ça nous fait chier parce que bien sûr on est… [touché] Les gens cherchent pas à nous connaître et à comprendre certains enfants ou certains jeunes, la vie qu’ils ont eu, ils ne cherchent pas, ils ne cherchent vraiment pas.. Pour eux, c’est comme si, en fin de compte, comme si la cité c’était entre guillemets une prison, quoi?! C’est pas parce que tu vas rentrer [dans la cité] que on va peter les pneu, que on va casser ta voiture. Non, bien au contraire! C’est les gens de l’extérieur qui donnent une mauvaise étiquette aux gens des cités! C’est ça!”


> Quoted interview with a concierge

2 | Negative identity If identity can be characterized by an objective definition, the negative identity refers to a criteria given by default to social housing inhabitants. This subjective belonging is a feeling defined and imposed by “outsiders”. My first interaction with each inhabitant, as well as with social workers, is always tinged with a defense mechanism. For instance, facing me, an “outsider”, the inhabitant was defending the social housing in order to avoid any judgement from my part. Many theories1 treat the question of the negative stigma imposed by a hegemonic and dominant population to a fragile one. The inhabitants contribute also in the construction of a negative image of their Cité, reinforcing the downgraded features. Indeed they apply the judgment of others on themselves. Those from outside point the cité out as being a ghetto.2 Paugam distinguishes the former homogenous identity and will that characterized the social housing that is today too complex to be approached as one unity. The creation of this negative identity is more related to status than a real shared identity. The persons in poverty do not have any link among them, however they are marked by a unique disqualified social status that deeply influences their identity. (Paugam, 1993) The heterogeneity among the population determines a conscious identity that appeared very quickly in the fieldwork.

The following illustrations are interpretations of the common daily displacements of the social housing inhabitants. It is mainly through these outside spaces that the insiders got to know the stereotype that defined them from the noncité inhabitants. These spaces are always displaying the unequalities. They express one’s economic condition.: going to a cheap super-market; shopping in the market; going to school where children compare each other. All these spaces have been mentioned by interviewees as having a negative meaning.

I understood from the actors that by definition they also refer to the “others”, the “outsiders” are simply characterized as the people who do not live in one of the houses or apartments of the Cité-Parc. The “rest of the population” is faced mainly through external activities, spaces: at school, going to the doctor, through their “outside” family… It is in reaction to these outsiders that the inhabitants of the Cité-Parc proclaim their identity. However I then identified another kind of outsider as professionals who work on site: the employees of the collective facilities and social associations (le foyer; Centre d’actions laiques; school; doctors and social assistants3) and the outside clients of the facilities (sport complex; dog training; police).

1_ For instance Bourdieu, Goffman, etc. 2_ Pierre Bourdieu highlights that “the stigmatized neighborhood symbolically downgrades its inhabitants. They return the stigma and downgrade symbolically, being unable to participate to the play of the different social games. They only share their common excommunication”. (Bourdieu, 1993) 3_ The “outcoming” medical assistance is very present. The concentration of fragile population is susceptible to become a priority place of social intervention 39

40 > Places of interaction feeding the negative identity and the mobility used

In the discourses, these facilities do not have a good role, having the idea that associations abandon them. Many social associations take place on the site, the inhabitants have been used to participate in the activities but due to political or other unknown reasons, the associations always gave up after some time. Actually, even if some associations have persevered more than two years on site, the feeling that I called the “NGO concept” remains. The associations come, launch activities and then leave the population remaining there to feel abandoned. This same feeling came up with the public announcement in 2005 of the corruption of many socialist politicians in power and with the arrest of the former president of the social housing. Many activities take place in the cité; many associations have come with good ambitions and ideas. They organize activities (open air cinema, Saint Nicolas, treasure hunt for Easter, etc.) two or three times a year and then stop. Today nobody is very interested in participating anymore… The feeling of relegation that is highlighted by different scientists (Paugam, Berger,…) was not very strong in this Belgian case (these scientists work mainly on the case of France, where the social housing is much more excluded and apart from the city). But through the evocation of these implications that disappointed the population we can really talk about a feeling of relegation from the authority, from the social help in terms of permanency.



Weekly market

High school Doctor

Lidl Aldi Football club Primary school Social housing Laundary Social housing

Cité parc Eldery inhabitant Inhabitant without car Inhabitant with car

Primary school Social housing office

Youth center

carrière 42

“Centre de délassement”

From “inside” to weekly activities: from three households, a family with car | single mother without car | elderly woman Form “inside” to weekly activity from three household: with car | without car | eldery 43


Bus station


Community center Village Police Museum Dog dressage Primary school Kindergarten Sport complex

College Campus



Form “outside� to housing site | Bois du Cazier museum | IPSMA college campus 45 Attractive public facilities inside and next to the housing and their relative circulation.

“Nous, en fait, on fonctionne ainsi! C’est comme si on se faisait nous-même des quartiers pour avoir plus facile. En fait là, c’est la cité, là La Petite Genevière, la Grande Chenevière, la CECA et ça c’est l’avenue Masquaux, c’est notre truc quoi... C’est comme si on disait la Cité-Parc! Ben là, c’est pareil, c’est l’avenue Masquaux (…) Là, c’est pas très bien délimité mais plus ou moins, là c’est les haies, donc tu as plusieurs trucs [quartiers] les Haies, la Grande Chenevière, la Petite, la CECA, la Cité…!, ici (me montrant sur la carte) c’est la Cité de l’Enfance...”


> Quoted interview with Nathalie

2 | Territorial identity By territorial identity I refer to the factors evoked by the inhabitants and shared by everybody living “inside” the “cité”. I identified in the discourses two criteria under “the territorial identity” being widely shared by the population of the social housing, and which are easily recognizable by the actors: the housing typology and the collective spaces. If the interviewees speak about people living “inside the cité”, it is due to the physical and homogenous aspect of the housing. The typology builds a visible difference with the adjacent build environment. The actors do not refer directly to the typology of the housing; they would more likely mention the “block” and the “alleys” to define the territory of the cité. “People that don’t live in the cité aren’t of the cité, even if they live in Marcinelle Haies.” (Karim)

The settlement accommodates many collective spaces. The modernist idea was to liberate the ground and to build vertically giving more green open spaces to the site and a better living condition. The social housing has been built following this idea and has created many collective spaces that today increase the control and the gazes of inhabitants on others. The feeling of belonging is increased since everybody knows what happens in the neighborhood life due to the fact that they share collective spaces and the views on it. The relation between visibility/invisibility, control/ silence is mentioned in each discourse. Their similar economic condition brings the inhabitants to live together. Due to the fact that they correspond to a set of categories imposed by the social laws, all of them end up sharing the same dwelling conditions. They also refer to the same landlord (le foyer), with whom they have contact and who makes decisions that affect everyone’s life. If all the inhabitants do not know each other, they at least share the “authority” of the social housing.

> Picture of the cité parc housing typologies 47

“Yvon, lui il sait tout. C’est lui qui m’a dit que les gens du 12 s’étaient fait expulser. Et c’est lui qui m’explique ce qu’il se passe, ce qu’il se passe avec le foyer…” (Cynthia)


Sharing the same living condition, for instance, the nuisance of the youth, the issue of the garbage… gives a strong feeling of belonging to the “same”. During an interview with those responsible for Collectif des locataires, I met three persons, two of them are living in two different towers of the Cité-Parc. They did not know each other, but when we addressed the advantages and disadvantages of living there, they were agreeing on every problem they both experience and suffer from separately, happy to see that they weren’t alone in their troubles. Also the economic conditions shared by the majority of the inhabitants have a big impact on the daily live: activities, leisure and mobility. However, the income and economic status of the inhabitants cannot be considered as homogenous. If 80% of the population is inactive, it does not mean that the “marginality” is everywhere. For example, around 20% of the inhabitants are retired, and cannot be considered as being “restricted” and spatially/socially disqualified. Most of them are still part of the generation that got this dwelling before the economical crisis and were not selected within the same category as the following families. If I argue for a heterogeneous conception of the socio-economic conditions, the “them” still has an impact on everyday life of all inhabitants. However we will see that it can also be argued as an element of dis-unification.





> Map representing the different neighborhoods that the inhabitants also considered as similar to them, inversly they also evoked other entities that they position as their opposite (Cité Empain “bourgeoise”)





> Aerial picture of the cité parc, highligting the used collective spaces [Bing map]


“Encore hier, on faisait un tour de la cité avec des plus jeunes, classique quoi.. Et on voit des jeunes de Marcinelle qui essayent de voler la voiture d’une fille du bloc 4. Alors, moi, j’ai été! Je leur ai dit de se casser. Moi, la fille je la connais pas, tu sais, [je sais qu’] elle a sa voiture là,… tu vois il y a quand même une solidarité ici…”

“Dans une cité, tout se sait et t’as l’œil partout. (…) C’est pas qu’on regarde la personne mais on protège justement, si personne viendra ennuyer la nouv… la personne qui viendra de l’extérieur. (…) Moi je suis la à la table. Bon, ben je vois, si je vois jamais quelque chose…. Que je connaisses ou que je ne connaisses pas je vais crier!”

“Actually it’s a little bit sad some times because, I know tat they will never say anything to me, but I know that my family does not like very much to visit me here. They never come to my apartment…”


> Quoted interview with Nathalie , Karim and Cynthia

3 | Sense of belonging

When the population of a stigmatized cité does not look for a collective defense facing the negative image that characterizes them, we can see the absence of the unified feeling of belonging. The neighborhood has a heterogenic social composition. The differences among the inhabitants are not objectively strong, but they exist. Paugam argues that these differences exist even more subjectively; they are even more felt by the marginalized population. In the same spatial entity, different households that are touched by the social disqualification are not facing the same kind of problem, since the disqualification occurs in different phases. The author gives an example: the ones that believe they will find a job and leave the “cité” by themselves do not share the same universe as the ones that have lived there for a long period1. In the Cité-Parc, I identified two reasons of positioning oneself vis-à-vis the cité: as “proud” insiders, or as insiders who do not refer to this identity but who are included by default. Differentiation between workers and unemployed2 I met Cyntia. She is a single woman living there for 26 years. Since she left her parents and started working, she moved in the Cité. She was alone and this apartment was a great opportunity for her. Today, it is now too late to afford a house alone. “I should have started to save money from the beginning. I could have bought a house when I started working, but now it’s too late to take out a loan…” (Cynthia)

1_ Paugam adds to that consideration the idea of “assisted” population. But we should be careful making this association. For instance, the social housing director keep as long as possible the old tenants that are still working or retired to try to maintain a heterogeneity through the housing. 2_ 20% of the inhabitants have professional incomes, and more than 40% of the inhabitant is unemployed 51

She was the first inhabitant depicting a bad image of the neighborhood. She evoked for the first time the problem of insecurity and garbage. In contrast with the image that was constructed by the media, the insecurity is not related to a physical insecurity. Everybody is in agreement in the sense that here people look after each other to make sure that personal-physical problems do not come up. If something appears between different groups of people, between youths or between a family, nobody will intervene, but if inside the cité someone disturbs the balance, then the social control of the inhabitants will intervene. Even more, Karim was explaining how the youths also look after the propriety of all inhabitants: This ambiguous belonging or not is the struggle that goes beyond the inhabitants: they live there, they share this territory that links them to the rest but also from which they want to be extracted. Cyntia listed many daily issues of her neighbors (dirty, garbage, noisy, security…) to make a distinction between her and the rest. Even though at the beginning she explained to me how she has lived there for so much time without contact with her neighbors, we ended our interview with the «lastest gossip»: one family was being evicted from its apartment this week. And then she concluded «Actually it’s a little bit sad sometimes because I know that they will never say anything to me, but I know that my family does not like to visit me here very much. They never come to my apartment…» The extent to which she belongs to the territory is much more than what she argues. This first aspect of differentiation can be related to


the fact that Cyntia works. She feels that she is different from the other inhabitants, that stay there the all daylong. Also she differentiates herself very much from the «uncivilized» behavior of «her neighbors» in the collective spaces: she likes to enjoy the space from her apartment but she will never walk around in the cité or sit on the grass. She likes her life there because she likes the investment that she has been making in her apartment. Her dwelling and the enjoyment she gets from the view balances the negative aspects out. Differentiation between newcomers and old The second feature of differentiation that is evoked by the researchers and by the population is the rotation feature. The social housing by definition has the goal to allow the population to know a social ascension by using the housing as a stepping-stone toward the purchasing of a home32. Therefore the social housing is characterized by the rotation of its tenants. In this case the rotation rate is not so high as expected, 10% of the population move out/in every year33. However it is still a feature of differentiation. The rotation of the tenants constitutes an obstacle to the establishment of stable social relations among them. The division was even more highlighted by the direction of the social housing. When I shared the positive feelings that the population had toward the social housing, they directly asked me if I had met people who had passed a long time living here. Everybody makes the difference between people that lived there for 20, 30 years and who have developed

a kind of sense of community, or at least have lived side by side for a long time and know each other (the link that is created by the relations around the children that go together to the same school is an important condition for the creation of this identity). On the contrary the ongoing shuffle of population does not invest in their dwelling and nor in their neighborhood relation. Only after 10 years do the new “arrivals” start to relate with the core or create their own “community”. Paugam lists this feature as a symptom at the base of social unrest that characterized social housing: the more prosperous depart to become a home-owner or to move into housing better adapted to their social and economic situation and are replaced by more fragile people (loss of the job, divorce or expulsion, etc.).


“Le plus dommage c’est pour les plus petits parce que les plus petits n’ont plus rien. A part le terrain là, entre notre bloc et le bloc 14 et l’autre qui est au bout c’est tout ce qu’il reste, il y a plus rien, il y a plus de petits jeux pour les enfants, il y a plus de toboggan parce que on l’a cassé, on les a détruit, on les a plus jamais remis.” “Il y a le reposoir.. pour les personnes âgées”


> Quoted interview with a concierge and Nathalie

4 | Generational identity

The last identity that came up very quickly in the fieldwork was the expression of the different generations. They speak about the elderly, the youth, the children, only the adults remain unconsidered as a group. Give the percentage of the different age!) Already the design of the housing was imagined with a division of different age groups. Tenants were supposed to move from one house to another according to the family needs. Small houses and apartments were imagined for young couple that would need one or two extra bedrooms, ground floor small apartments for the elderly people, etc. Even though the criteria today for the designation of a dwelling follows this ideology, the practice is different. No family has ever moved from one house to another according to their need. The tenants are attached to their dwelling and if they have invested in it, they would never accept to move out. The division of the housing into quarters of different age groups is therefore not maintained. The only exception is the senior quarter. One street allocated to the oldest population is still being rented to this part of the population, giving a real character to that street. If the repartition of the population does not follow this concept anymore, the population still speaks of generation groups. This division is easily readable by the uses of the public spaces; each one has his moment and his place: sometimes shared by different generations; some places mono-generational.



> These images refer to the different uses of the space by the different generations. The children play mainly in front of their parents’house and go to school in the cité; the youth hang around looking for a stable place, squatting one another block’s hall, the school shelter and a bit further the youth center; the adults do not have a strong and visible generational behavior in the public space. They meet their neighbors in the street or hall; the displacement of the eldery people is much more related to their daily promenade, they also occupyed the place of “waiting mobility”: bus stop, taxi, family picking up...







Marcinelle plaza

industry | park

city hall marcienlle royal football club

super market | lidl super market | aldi friterie solderie social housing | Chenevière social housing | CECA super market | match retention basin

bois du cazier

kindergarten sport complex super market | mestdagh

college campus (paramedical/social) sporting charleroi football club marcinelle youth centre


> Mapping of the different points of interaction between insiders/outsiders and attraction of the facilities nearby the housing (the circle represent a scale of attraction from neighborhood to international; the colored facilities are the ones used by inhabitants)





CONCLUDING QUESTION This section exposed two main logics of belonging. The first can be expressed as the result of a vicious circle: insiders belong to Cité Parc only due to the outsiders that have stigmatized them as such. The second kind of belonging is much more related to daily practices and how people in general position themselves in the society.

On the contrary, the first logic of belonging is a total mental construction that a priori does not reflect any reality. The negative increasement of this identity results from a pernicious effect. Looking at the first relation that constructs this mental representation, urban design can play a role to modify the first image. The places of interaction play a main role in the construction of the stereotypes. Where we shop, where we live, where we study all define to

which economic class we belong. Could we imagine a place/function that softens this relation? and “positivize” the first socialization place?

OUTSIDERS stigmatized reinforce the stigma INSIDERS





1 | Re-action on the negative identity 2 | Potentialities of the site 3 | Opening up towards the avenue 4 | A valley path 5 | Concluding: question


1| Reaction to the negative identity The first strategy deals with the idea of the “enclave” to open up the housing to the rest of the society and city. As we saw, the stereotypical gaze on a “closed social housing” does not account for all the logics present on the site. The first part of the design strategy tries to deal with the negative identity by remodeling the place of interaction between the insiders and the outsiders. The site has spatial conditions that could become potential. In one side La Cité Parc could take advantage of the industrial relic of Le Bois du Cazier (former coal mine transformed into mine museum): the wide attraction of the coal site, the terrils being the green lung of the “black city” and the former railway that follows the valley bed (previously connecting the mine with other mines, forests and rivers) and that remains mostly public domain. On the other side, the main avenue Masquaux and a commercial center right after the ring road borders the housing. The presence of the ring road concentrates the intensity of flows from north to south in three points of passage. Combining the spatial condition and the will of transforming the context of meeting between outsiders and insiders, the main strategy provides a path that links different “friendly” elements (other social housing, Marcinelle village, football field, park, forest, etc.) as well as the housing, improving soft mobility way and the other extremity of the housing, providing a plaza bringing the housing with the urban life behind the ringroad.


> Diagram of the strategy locating the social housing between the avenue and its commercial center and the former railway line inherited from the industrial era, and the ring road. 63

2 | Potentialities of the site

> Current situation: social housing between different elements: a commercial axis; the ring road, and the museum site of le Bois de Cazier with its terril. 64

> Potentialities of the site: the commercial avenue and the the former railway

> Two points of intensity that result from the ringroad

> Position of the path in the valley


3 | Opening up toward the avenue

La Cité Parc hidden dehind the aven

Commercial center





66 City hall

Marcinelle center


Ringroad bridge



Super-market Aldi

Super-market Lidl


67 > Collage section of the avenue: colored are public facilities and the one used by CitĂŠ Parc inhabitants are marked by the transport mode. [Google street]

4 | A valley path


College IPSMA: social & medical assistancy

Cité Parc

Social housing “Petite Chenevière”, Marcinelle


Route de Philippeville, commercial axis

Parking of College IPSMA:

Orage bassin of the ringroad

Marcinelle football club

Remainings of coal explotation in big boxes development

Small & medium entreprise

Couillet village, enclaved between railway and river

Football club

Charleroi Football club

Sport complex Asie in Cité Parc, abandoned basketball field

Agriculture field, Marcinelle

Former industrial platforms being recovering from pollution

dog training

Social housing “Petite Chenevière”, Marcinelle

La Sambre and the ravel

> Collage through the differents environment that the path crosses: from the river, through the social housing, till the rural area [Google street]


< The project connects different elements such as footbal club, small and medium industry, campus, commercial center, etc. with the social housing as one element among the others. The valley path is a sequence of elements: crossing the ringroad, bordering the housing, and punstuating element as the terrils. It can become a leisure spine as well as a daily path.

CONCLUDING QUESTION One main discussion in anthropology treats about engagement. Many scholars argue in favor of non-intervention on the field. According to them, the population cannot “be touched” since any extra intervention would unbalance and provoke pernicious effects. This way of looking at the world makes me think about the effects that can produce a project.


Even if each project has its own scale, the intervention has a much wider impact. By attaching the Cité Parc to the valley, a different system appears that has not been highlighted until today. The social housing would no longer be an exception cut off from the rest but part of another system. Another level of design strategy should look at the maintenance of the other mentioned identities, to balance the backside of the project.

The valley path would not vanish into the mass the Cité Parc? What needs to be preserved? Does not opening up the social housing destroy the balance?





1 | Informal economy 2 | Leisure activities 3 | Mobility 4 | Blurred spaces 5 | Example of the parking lots 6 | Concluding question



1 | Informal economy The different identities described before lead to different uses and ways of behavior in the public space. The description and reflection on the unclaimed behaviors and the particular uses of La Cité Parc are the focus of this section.

Many scientists have showed the state of unemployment (Paugam,1993) as a situation in which people are constrained to develop creative solutions. I will refer here only to the “creative activities” that take place in public space, even if it has been shown that inhabitants also used their dwelling to accommodate different services (e.g. cosmetic center, dog grooming…). Different uses of “unclaimed” and claimed spaces reveal the “bricolage” of the inhabitants. I divided the informal economy into two categories: socially accepted and socially unaccepted. From my short fieldwork, it has been difficult for me to access the world of socially unaccepted economy. If some actors mentioned it, this consideration is more fleshed out by literature than by the site itself. However the informal, socially acceptable economy is very visible and displayed in public. I mainly identified the car work taking place in very visible and used places. Being socially accepted or not, the informal economy is known by everybody inhabiting the housing: everyone knows who to contact for each need (find a gardener, help for shopping, taxi services, garage mechanic…). “Le travail est une valeur (…) L’illicite est nullement caché, l’individu en bleu de travail cherche de fait à justifier sa presence par des signes d’une pratique professionnelle. Le travail étant pas essence une activité publique, affichée, revendiquée, il facilite l’exercice d’une activité privée dans un espace ouvert à tous.”(Lefrançois, 2002)


The mechanic activities are embedded in space. Informal occupation as taxi driver or gardener are not easily positioned into particular spaces. Nevertheless it is important to know that they exist and give a better understanding of the site life. In terms of mobility, many people (mostly single women and elderly people) need the help of neighbors and develop a secondary system of exchange; such as shopping for someone or driving one another. In terms of gardening (developed between house inhabitants) the displaying of a clean and organized garden plays an important role in the neighbors’ relations. An interesting activity that I observed on site and that also has been described by Lefrançois is the world developed around the car.

2 | Leisure activities During the interviews, if it was not a main topic of discourse, the relation between their settlement and their inactivity was expressed through their incapacity to afford any activities. Mais le problème c’est que tous les parents savent pas payer en fait. Parce que quand tu penses il faut payer l’assurance il faut payer l’équipement. Pour faire les déplacements. Il faut une voiture Ils sont en manque d’activité parce que tout est cher,.. (...) Alors qu’est ce qu’ils font? Ils vont chercher les viandes et ils font barbecue, ici, dans les herbes. A la base c’est interdit, mais les gens ils appellent les pompiers et alors les pompiers leur disent ils doivent encadrer le charbon de bois, avec des pierres ca ils regardent si il les ont et ils doivent avoir un extincteur avec eux Maman: oui, mais l’extincteur où est ce qu’ils vont le chercher?!


Les extincteurs ils les volent dans les blocs. Du moment que tu les prends et que tu reviens le remettre ça va. Mais après que t’aies bu que tu es ravagé tu commence à le vider ça va moins bien… tu vois c’est comme je te dis c’est une chaine sans fin

Nathalie brought up many times the idea of a vicious circle that conceptualizes the use of the public spaces and the life in the Cité. The lack of organized space for activities can lead to negative impacts on the collective space. Though their narrow possibilities restrict their social life, they also gather people around the same interest. The inhabitants have a bigger propensity to participate in the informal economy, the children to play in the collective spaces, or the adults to increase their socialization though activities revolving around dogs. The dog is an anecdotic “leisure” but very much an extended activity that has been observed in the cité and that should be taken into consideration in further projects.

3 | Mobility The economic condition influences mobility. Since the majority of the population does not work, the daily need to leave the dwelling also decreases. The reasons for leaving are for shopping, going to the doctor, going to the laundry (for some), for the young going to school, and visiting relatives or friends36. These are the official and predictable reasons for mobility of the inactive population. However, the movement of vehicles is much more apparent than these activities seem to have predicted (this observation has to be made even if I did not question it further). The spaces of mobility are also all related to permanent spaces of sociability. Buses, taxis and cars all have a dedicated space in terms of movement but also in terms of permanency, creating interaction spaces. Even using private transport creates sociability.


The car occupies an important visibility in the cité. The research about spatial/social disqualification argue for a proportional link between income and mobility, they speak about immobility. In the cité, an inverse phenomenon is visible. Mainly with regards to the youth (the more visible population) the car occupies the first interest. The car becomes, in their case, a home. Since the majority of them are still living with their parents, when they can afford to purchase a car, this object becomes more of a roof than a transport. “On va pas aller jusque Charleroi, on reste ici, on a pas d’argent pour l’essence pour aller jusque Charleroi (rire de tous)” (Youths in the cité)

The second transport is the bus. This transport is also more oriented to a kind of population with children/youth who go to school and with old people who have always been using it. The public transport has three stops in the cité that are used by some people as a place of meeting and socializing. For everyone it is a space of spatial reference: everybody knows where the bus stops are since they are very visible (on the main street of the Cité) to pedestrians, cars or whoever passes. Some years ago, one bus stop was actually considered to be a meeting place, embedded into a physical concrete “aubette” with bench and roof. Since it has been damaged, the public transport has not restored it. Seating is still available in two of the three bus stops. “À l’arrêt du bus, par exemple si tu n’as pas de voiture, elle va a l’arrêt du bus, elle rencontre du monde..” (Woman in the cité)


The third transport used is the taxi. Many people that do not have car use public transport or walk to their activities, mainly shopping activities, and use the taxi to come back from short distances. People spend around 4-5 euros to come back home by taxi; it facilitates their household duties. This usage also affects the use of public space. Like the bus, the taxi has to be waited for and this waiting creates a temporary meeting space. In the case of the taxi, the halls of the towers become very interesting spaces. Walking as a mode of transport also takes an important place in the circulation, although it cannot be quantitatively estimated. On the other hand, there was a big attempt to provide a special circulation for pedestrians separated from car circulation. Only part of this circulation system is actually used, while, by usage, pedestrians have developed a second easier and shorter circulation.

>Different atmospheres and usages in the social housing



4| Blurred space – Intermediate space – place & non-place – dilated space1 - interstice Lieux, au caractère flou, aux contours mal defines, au statut incertain, laisse libre cours aux experimentations et aux tentatives en tous genres (Remy, 2002)

The question of the grand ensembles in France brought with it an important part of literature that highlights the existence of inbetween spaces revealing social logics. Many authors have developed their own vocabulary whose definition changes according to the various activities taking place and that do not have a claimed function nor a clear definition. Some speak in terms of dysfunction that the blurred space revealed, others in terms of accommodation and creativity. Through the different examples observed and defined previously, the distinction between dysfunction or function does not


1_ Intermediaite space (Roulleau-Berger, 2002); place & non-place (Augé, 1992); dilated space (Michelin, 2002) 80


Overlap of the different interaction



make sense. I defined different kinds of interaction that take place and highlighted a category of blurred spaces in the Cité-Parc. The interactions do not cross the border between claimed and unclaimed territories: places of avoiding and living side by side and anonymity; exchange places (conflict, conciliation); control and hidden places; meeting places. The blurred spaces allow comings and goings and accommodate specific uses by different groups.

5| Example of interaction in blurred space: parking lots

The parking lot is one blurred space in the cité that accommodates either its claimed function, parking cars, or the informal economy and leisure activities. Many logics and relations are attached to that space, Dominique Lefrançois did an entire thesis analysing parking lots in the grand ensembles in France.The parking lots devoted to the private good are suitable, due to the ambiguity of its status, for incongruous appropriation and frequently leads to a place of conflict. “That space attracts handyman amateurs and more professional garage mechanics as if the parking was an annex to their apartment. It’s an activity that we practice alone but can need the help of acquaintances or friends. The space becomes a workshop or a men’s room; where men work together. Never evoked as a propinquity facility, the parking becomes a space where the individual can be differentiated from the anonymity through his activities. The library is also brought up for the same reason. A


mother or a youth would appreciate the library as a refuge space that offers books or at least the place dedicated to it.” (Lefrançois, 2007)

The description made by the author on the parking lots is very relevant and echos the Cité Parc reality: The activity that takes place on the parking lot is very much related to the activity that is performed there, but the space also has proper spatial qualities susceptible to favor meeting. It can also be occupied by the mobile vendors that found there a market opportunity. The presence of these commercial activities gives a public character to the space that was previously menspace. These “market vans” give a bit of distraction; people mix with foreigners, inhabitants and users of the neighborhood. The parking lots become then a transitional space rather than a junction where the outsiders do not always feel confortable to penetrate. The meetings between people who are not susceptible to be link take place in a border, which has the role, according to De Certeau or Simmel, of unifing instead of dividing or for Sennett, allowing different universe to overlap.

A design has to be envisaged in that perspective, looking at the different interactions. Even more it should envisage the possible interactions to give more ambition to the project intervention.



CONCLUDING QUESTION Through this analysis, I identified different usage of intersticial space that would need to be maintained. These are not considered as formal and claimed uses or behavior but play an important role in the relation between inhabitants, providing “inside rules and inside relations” If the first strategy was attempting to bring more sociability and exchange between people that do not meet normally and to change the

condition of these meetings from “confrontation” to “friendly” then the need to enlarge the perspective of the social housing inhabitants is essential. But the improvement of their situation is not just about mixity but rather about giving them back the choice of their interactions. Since it was (for the majority) a choice by default to inhabit the Cité Parc, the way of accommodating should be a real

choice. If the “opening up” of the social housing to the rest of the city was an attempt for mixity (from the designer), the design should also be about meeting sometimes or not as it fits to the reality of the current interactions.





1 2 3 4

| | | |

Strategy 2 Playing with topography “objet trouvé” Conclusion


The second strategy focuses on the scale of the social housing. It deals with two aspects: how the new public path meets the housing? And how the “inside” identity could be improved? The strategy proposes to play with topography: implementing two strong and straight lines that will accomodate both previous aspects. The valley path meets the social housing and divides itself into different branches: leisure (climbing the terril); usage; straight path. They are implemented together with the social housing system giving a public façade and an anchor to the towers that were until now “flying” on a huge grass field. These “anchor strips” accomodate different functions: holding a water park, a bus stop , a dog training, an orchards, a sport fields.

The second line deals with the “inside” situation of the housing, starting from the analysis of the blurred spaces to turn them into conciliation places. This proposal tries to unify places of rejection and to provide the appropriation of the soil (of the huge empty grass territory).


> The map summarizes the places of intense interaction defined previously, the white space being an intermediate space between the different housing typologies. They are characterized by a particular topography increasing the screen, being the current dump place.


> A path in a valley system

> A path meeting a perpendicular system in the social housing

> increasing the perpendicularity to give an anchor to the housing

> the valley path in relation with the housing

> Plan at the scale of the social housing. The valley path meeting a social housing system creates a new interface relation betwee, outside and outside the housing. 90

homeopathic interventions


Social housings in the modern period have often been the place of innovation, of playing with topography. In La Cité Parc, the topography has been modified to correspond to the ideal project of that period. Also towers and public facilities (such as the primary school and the police office) have been positioned in their own way on the topography. They have their domains and create a complex denivalation game. The project is based on and increases this analysis, on which it overlaps the system of “anchor strip”. This strip system combines two functions. Firstly it repositions the blocks into the valley/public façade of the valley to them a public façade. And secondly the strips accomodate different public functions: water basin park, dog training, orchards, sport fields, etc.

Before: the social housing topography

2m 1.5m

After: reshaped topography

Before: domains of the blocks and school












After: system of the path/dikes is created in relation with the overlap of the domains, strips and topography system



COMPLEXITY playing with topography





Sections through the school/ sport complex strip, where the valley bed decomes narrow. I proposed to play with a system of dikes that by meeting the school creates terrasses of sport fields; that could accomodate further development; that, in the sport complex, build up the parking lots together with acrobatic elements, and at the level of the terril becomes a climbing wall.

94 2m 1.7 m

2m 1m


0.6 m

0.7 m

1.2 m

95 1.2 m





The former street becomes a slow mobility path. The dike/path creates the continuity of the block domain.



Sections through the bus stop/ plaza and through the dog training. The first section illustrates how the “plaza/strip” accomodates a wider bus stop and also become the departure of the terril promenade. Passing the block the plaza gives a new entrance to the community center. The second section illustrates how the former street becomes a path through “outsiders activities” increasing the relation between outsiders and insiders, forgetting their differences by sharing their passion for dogs...


99 10




These section illustrates the possible appropriation of the soil for the block inhabitants. The section reshapes the former slow slop unregards by the house inhabitants and even used as a dump place by implementing community gardens, compost heaps and sheds for tools, bikes, outside activities. This intervention is an attempt to modify the conflict place into a conciliation place disturbing the population from their daily trouble towards a new activity. 100


CONCLUSION Try to keep the balance and to open up the life perspective of the population were the attempt of the design. Through these new paths and a new interfaces created between insiders/ outsiders I tried to bring a bigger impact on the population than just improving their environment. The idea is that by improving the perception of others on them, by giving them a “self confidence”, and a positive sense of belonging to the social housing, the inhabitant will position 102

themselves in a more “equal relationship” with the rest of the society. I assume that they will start bit by bit to get the benefit of the commonly used “mixity” by widering their socialization. I trust that this project will have a positive affect on their life and even more bring them to another perception of the society and on their future. The idea is not to save the social problem of a region (unemployement, education...) through urban-

ism, by changing the urban and build environment but it is rather to try to give to the “outsiders” the real image of the housing reality.

> The piece of the former street (part of the path) becomes an â&#x20AC;?objet trouvĂŠâ&#x20AC;?, a stage in front of the coal mine backdrop. It could accomodate many different usages, illustrated through these daily possibilities.


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Inside | Outside  
Inside | Outside  

Master thesis: KULeuven Urbanism and strategic spatial planning 2012