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Change gait Juliette GĂŠron

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Changing gait, 2019 | Photography designed during a workshop with Antti Ahtiluoto | © Juliette Géron

Research work in design under the supervision of Ann Pham Ngoc Cuong, Laurence Pache & Catherine Pradeau. DSAA 2018-2019, Eco-design specializing in landscape and interior design at Raymond Loewy’s school in La Souterraine.

Change gait Juliette GĂŠron

Obstacle session, 2015 | Châteauneuf-sur-Loire | © Philippe Géron


Horse riding is part of my life. When I was six, I met this animal that has allowed me to become who I am today. I’m often stressed and sensitive; the horse helps me to be calm and peaceful. On horse back but also next to a horse, I’ve no time to think about my problems because I haven’t the right to make errors. Horse riding is my oxygen. So if the horse can soothe me, I think it can do it for all of us who are living in a hyperactive society in which we always want more: further, faster, higher… This is a behaviour that we don’t even question. As I know the benefits the horse and its presence can give me, I think horses can become more than a leisure. It can become an actor of our territory in order to help us change gait as it can walk, gallop, trot... I want to combine in this diploma project my tastes, my personal beliefs, my desires with my work as a designer in a perspective of evolution and human change for a better world. As a horse-rider and as a landscape and environmental designer, it seems timely to use the advantages of this animal in order to reconnect human beings with their environment that they go through without being able to feel it any more. But I don’t wish to see everyone start horse-riding overnight, this is not the goal....

‘‘ There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.’’ 1 For a few years before this thesis, I have been thinking about my next adventure with horses. I want to travel across France on horseback to find unknown and viable alternatives to help our planet and share my discoveries with others. This trip could give me a new human and social dimension in order to open myself to the unknown and learn about the others. This thesis, is on the one hand the combination of two learning processes: design and horse riding. Quote from Winston Churchill

3 | Foreword


4 | Change gait





1 | Are we ready to change gait ?


Why have horses disappeared from our streets ?


Rethink our spaces for the horse to find alternatives to the car


2 | A new way of transport for a new economy


An ecological transport for a social and convivial project


Circular economy principles










5 | Summary

Entr’aperçu, 2006 | Zingaro, Bartabas | © Fred Chehu


Modern human beings constantly travel the world, their world, to work, to feed themselves, to create social links. These trips are not exceptional but daily. We can’t stop moving, this is part of our daily lives. But the way we get from one place to another is problematic because of climate, economic and social disruption due to our hyper-active lifestyles. Our way of life, including the way we move on the Earth is no longer adapted to current issues… The problem is that we are addicted to cars. It gives us a feeling of control (of our time), of freedom (in displacement), of safety, of comfort... It makes us dream because it allows us to travel further... It is more than a machine, it is like a new species inspired by the animal with its four wheels as paws and headlights for the eyes. In fact, the car is the most integrated means of daily transport in our lives and in our urban spaces and even rural spaces: it structures our cities and accelerates our lives… We are actually in a dehumanized world where conviviality, sharing and tranquility have disappeared. But then, how can we imagine rethinking the way we move, which presupposes questions the existence of the car? How to reconsider our usual trips without a car? Can we give more importance to a more virtuous means of transport with horses, which do not produce greenhouse effect gases?

7 | Introduction

To find how it’s possible to combine our contemporary challenges with a slower but less polluting mode of transport and to find if it’s possible to rethink a system much more globally, such as the way we live in society, we must first know if we are ready to slow down and to change gait by maybe returning to the past in order to understand why the car has gained the upper hand on the horse. After this analysis it may become possible to find alternatives. Then, it seems important to think the economic and social aspect of the project, and what it could offer, more than our current system.

1 | Are we ready to

change gait ?

Previous page :

Circuler à Paris sous l’occupation, 1943 | White and black photograph | © DR

Why have horses disappeared from our streets ?

Today in our streets, we can see dogs, rats or pigeons but no horses. Our cities aren’t made for this kind of animals even if they were present a century ago. In fact, our cities used to be adapted to slow walk due to the animal power. Streets were made of clay or cobbles, all the buildings had a ring to tie the horses and a trough for them to drink, there were also farms in the city centres… Some animals were used to pull tramways, or others were sold alive on the market to be eaten as we can see on old postcards1.

But even if we need to transport all of this food and also enven if we need to move as human, we rejected this animals out of the city a century ago, and they became part of the rural landscape between urban spaces. It’s undoubtedly due to the use of the automobile. This major progress was inspired by the animal power but without animals. It provides comfort, safety, and rapidity while horses are dangerous and often considered as dirty. Horses are naturally unpredictable, and even more in the presence of cars. They can be startled by a car which goes fast and too close to them. They can be afraid of anything, and therefore swerve and propel us a few meters away. They can also bite and kick if an unlucky passer-by walks too close to them. They can also get hurt. In fact, there are many causes for unexpected reactions from horses sensitive to their environment. It’s the most important difference between a horse and a car: with a horse, we can’t control everything. The question of safety is one of the most important problems to resolve. Installations may be imagined in 1

Carolyn Steel , How food shapes our cities, TEDGlobal conference, 2009

13 | Why have horses disappeared from our streets ?

‘‘ We live in places like this as if they’re the most natural things in the world, forgetting that because we’re animals and that we need to eat, we’re actually as dependent on the natural world as our ancient ancestors were.’’

14 | Change gait

order to separate the different street users or to explain to the city-dwellers how to act and react with horses… Are we going to see special roads for horses in our cities in addition to our classical roads made of asphalt? As a designer, the point would be to rethink the urban flows taking into account the presence of horses, because the goal of this thesis and the final design project is, first of all, to find how we can change our means of transport, like the car, which is a lot of people’s favorite transport. And, it is then necessary to show that the transport with horses can be a good and viable solution for the environment. The installation Cf. city flows is a project by Till Nagel, MarianDörk and Christopher Pietsch for the Urban Complexity Lab from 2015 to 2018 in Potsdam, Germany. They are three research professors specialized in design, computing and humanity, who work about the urban futures. So they created a graphic and interactive work to show the urban bike share mapping in London, Berlin and NYC to help us to understand how we move in the urban space. With these three interactive maps we can compare all the flows in these cities and we can also zoom to better understand how bicycles and cyclists interact. With a similar installation we can highlight how people used to move with horses in their territory and more precisely in the Creuse and the neighboring areas. And we can also show how horses could be used today. The Creuse may be a good context because today big cities like Paris, Bordeaux or Lyon are too dense and are perfectly serviced by public transport and the many roads, so the horse has no chance to find its place there. This is why the Creuse and more specifically the town of La Souterraine is interesting for this project: this city is not very dense and does not have public transport in the center. This context seems favorable to rethink and adapt our contemporary urban flows with the horse mobility. In fact the mapping work can give us an idea for the future potential

15 | Why have horses disappeared from our streets ?

organization of the new urban traffic. And inevitably, with this kind of work we can see and find where it is really useful to introduce the horse. Is it better to target my research on the outskirt of the town? Or is it better to use this kind of transport In the city center? So, with the mapping work we can highlight the urban modifications that the horse can generate for a sustainable development perspective and we may invite all the people to rethink their habits and stimulate them to use this kind of transport. This may help to show that, with horses, the human health and the health of the planet can be improved if we forego the use of the car. Then, there is another problem even in small towns: the question of hygiene. In fact, a horse cannot be ordered to urinate or defecate, so it is important to think about new facilities, to ensure safety and manage dung that stinks. But it may be a matter of collective imagination because it is excrement‌ And excrement remains excrement but a horse’s is more imposing, then inevitably it’s conspicuous... It seems dirty on the road but not in the fields, where it serves as A natural fertilizer. How to reuse dung? Do we have to pick it up? Like the collective compost containers scattered in the city, we can imagine collective bins for dung from which each of us could take some dung for our vegetable gardens. On a larger scale, why not imagine a partnership with local farmers in the form of barter: dung to fertilize their land in exchange for food to feed the horses. But who will pick up the dung on the streets? We have all seen dung bags generally placed behind the rear of a harnessed horse. It seems to be the perfect solution but, in fact, it can hurt the animal by tapping on its hocks and by possibly burning its skin because of the liquid from the dung. So how can we make the dung disappear? Do we have to imagine dung trash in our cities? Could new jobs be created? But who wants to pick up dung? How can we make this job attractive?

Cf. city flows, 2015-2018 | Till Nagel, MarianDörk & Christopher Pietsch | Germany | installation of screens | © DR

Cf. city flows, 2015-2018 | Till Nagel, MarianDörk & Christopher Pietsch | Germany | experiment fuzzy routes | © DR

Cf. city flows, 2015-2018 | Till Nagel, MarianDörk & Christopher Pietsch | Germany | experiment edgebundling | © DR

Map of the past for our future 2018 | cartographic research for traces of the past linked to the use of the horse | La Souterraine | Š Juliette GÊron

19 | Why have horses disappeared from our streets ?

Rethink our spaces for the horse to find alternatives to the car

21 | Rethink our spaces for the horse to find alternatives to the car

Although the horse is allowed to walk in the city, the rules governing this unusual means of transport are the same as the rules which govern the automobile traffic... But the horse is not as fast as a car, it does not therefore cover the same distances, and does not cross the same roads. Only one type of paths, such as those we take with the car, does not seem adapted to the emergence of a new, slower mode of transport. Is the current urban fabric adaptable to a new mobility of this scale? The cycle paths are generally arranged afterwards, but the necessary space for cycling and for the horse is not the same. In addition, a horse does not manage to stop like a car because it is a living being and cannot remain motionless. That’s what I observed during a life-size test in La Souterraine town centre. This test on a Saturday morning has allowed me to see if it’s possible to do my shopping on horse as if I used a car (go to the market, to the supermarket, go to the gas station…). With this experience I wanted to know if city-dwellers were willing to accept a new, slower means of transport and also to understand some technical problems that I have to resolve if I want to see horses in this town in the future. So I understood that a horse didn’t like waiting. It moves a lot when it sees a lot of people and when it has to wait to let a car pass. In fact, it’s necessary to make adjustments not only for the fluidity of urban flows, or the comfort and safety of the animals and their rider or driver, but also for the safety of the road users not using this means of locomotion. The current signage governing the traffic in our urban spaces poses a second obstacle to the integration of another way of transport. As we can see in other countries like Hungary or England, a road signage is dedicated to the mobility on horseback. Indeed, the horse is considered by the highway code as a bike. For example in London, Hyde Park, there is Pegasus Crossing to allow horse riders to walk in safety next to pedestrians. This traffic light captures the presence of horses and does not affect road traffic. Everything is thought for the horse: the paths are bigger than the paths for pedestrians, there are buttons placed higher so that the riders can

Pegasus Crossing, | UK | Road signage designed for horse riders | © DR Zoning of the project in La Souterraine, 2019 | Map research to find points of interest and usable green spaces | © Juliette Géron

23 | Rethink our spaces for the horse to find alternatives to the car

reach them and there are also some additional installations like wood fences to separate horses and cars‌ In England the signage is often made to allow the horse to do something whereas in Hungary the signage is made to forbid some roads for slow mobility like with a bike or by foot or with a horse. The signage work could be really important in the reintroduction of the horse mobility because it modifies our perception of a space because it’s slower than the car. In the old days a lot of information could be read on roads signs whereas today these signs have been excessively simplified in order to be quickly read. This change of perception can be an important point for the project because slowness allows people to contemplate the landscape but also to have another point of view because on horseback or in a carriage our gaze is much higher than in a car. Maybe we can imagine to find some of this kind of signage near some important places of the town where horses, pedestrians, and cars intersect. Beyond the change of perception it is necessary to change the road organization, where steep slopes are easily practicable by car but not on horseback or with a carriage. In addition, the presence of manholes on the ground and also the tar can make an animal glide. That’s what happened during my riding test in town. This kind of details are not perceptible today but they represent a real impediment to the daily presence of horses in town.

2 | A new way of transport for a new economy

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Shopping on horseback, 2019 | La Souterraine | Life-size test: A horse in the city | Š Axel Girard-Langlet

An ecological transport for a social and convivial project

29 | An ecological transport for a social and convivial project

This project not only has an ecological impact, as it reduces CO2 emissions, but it also has a social dimension. In this respect we can talk about BEDZED ( Beddington Zero Energy) community based in London created by the architects studio Bill Dunster. It’s a neighbourhood with eco-friendly features, like solar cells or wind turbines to reduce the carbon footprint. Beyond this, this neighbourhood aims to bring together different social classes, because the ecology must be accessible to all. So we can find there, public parks, convivial and common spaces where people can meet. All of the ameneties are thought according to neutral carbon footprint and to maximize mutual help between people. This convivial aspect is really important to hope for change in order to make a project viable and also desirable. With horses, we must take breaks several times a day according to their needs. But it’s not enough to recreate a convivial atmosphere; we need people because when there are people in one place we can see that others are attracted and join the group easily: people attracts people. It could bring life to an empty space. A space with, for example, a terrace where we can wait with the horse could be imaged. But wait for what? In the event that a service is set up to drop people off in the centre with a carriage, we can imagine that on the way back the carriage would no longer carry people but baskets of vegetables, ordered in advance to the gardeners on the market by customers. It would enable the farmers to have more time and help unclog the town centre. Meanwhile people who have ordered could wait quietly, away from the hustle and bustle, for the horse to deliver the vegetables. It could be a solution to avoid making the horses wait near the market where they tend to get upset and impatient because of human agitation as we have seen before. In fact, it seems interesting to combine two types of service: a regular bus and a delivery service. This kind of shuttle would allow people to go to the market from

BedZed, 2002 | Hackbridge, London, England | Wind turbine on eco-friendly housing | Š DR

BedZed, 2002 | Hackbridge, London, England | Solar bike station where we can sit and talk | Š DR

Stables open in downtown, 2018 | Personal Research for Macro Project | © Juliette Géron

Take a coffee on horseback, 2019 | La Souterraine | Life-size test: A horse in the city | © Axel Girard-Langlet

32 | Change gait

one carriage station outside the town centre and it would also allow people, who don’t want to spend time on the market, to have their goods delivered On some parking lots. It may be possible to use spaces situated on the outskirts of the town to revitalize these parts of La Souterraine, which are totally dehumanized spaces due to the omnipresence of cars, trucks and other motorized vehicles that split the landscape and the organization of the town. It can be a way of rethinking the city by breaking down the borders between the city centre and the outskirts. These new places where human beings and animals can live together, must be designed according to humans’ and animals’ needs. But this idea of a shuttle seems operational only on Saturdays... So, to thoroughly explore the idea, the horse could be present for public transport with the idea of a bus route on a regular basis, all year round. It could reduce our carbon footprint and also invite people to rethink their life pace not just on week-ends but all week long, all year long… Beyond offering a new service to improve the way of life and change the atmosphere of the town, it could reconnect people with each other by creating some meeting points near the carriage station. They would be convivial spaces where people could wait and talk. Maybe this new surprising transport could attract other people to Creuse. But it could also create new jobs. In fact, who are the people who would drive the horses? Who are those who would take care of the animals? Who would feed them?

Circular economy principles

Reintroducing the horse in our lives and in our towns is not simple. In fact, this animal has a lot of needs: a horse requires a lot of care either on a daily basis to mulch the loose box, feed them, or more temporarily with veterinary visits. It is an investment of time but also of money; besides it is necessary to acquire knowledge and know-how about the animal’s needs. To make this project become reality, and not just a horse-rider’s dream, it seems important to think about another approach of our traditional business model focused on hyper-productivity and capitalism. In fact, this project is an opportunity to change our life, our rhythm, and also our economical approach because to reduce our ecological footprint, we have to think a process from the beginning to the end and this can imply a desire for zero waste. In this way, there is a lot of organization which develop and democratize this idea of circular economy with no waste and eco-friendly materials... One of the most important is Cradle to Cradle2.

This type of organization focuses its work on the choice and the creation of ecological materials or by developing zero waste sectors, but they now try to consider more and more the employement conditions and control provenances by limiting intermediaries between each design stage. So in this idea, we must develop this social aspect to create a new ecosysteme and that’s why we need a partnership between those who take care of the horses and some other actors of the territory 2 Website Cradle to Cradle products innovation institue (

35 | Circular economy principles

‘‘The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, a nonprofit organization, educates and empowers manufacturers of consumer products to become a positive force for society and the environment, helping to bring about a new industrial revolution. ’’

to reach this goal and limit intermediaries to limit costs. But what kind of partnership could we imagine with this idea of circular economy? To be realistic, we need to remember that a horse eats all day long. An Ardennes draft horse, for example, eats between 6 and 10 kg of hay per day divided into several meals according to its morphology and metabolism. A lot of space in indees to feed this animal because it eats in the meadow 200m² of grass per day… It is a little more than 7 hectares per year for one horse. In the context of a town of 6,000 inhabitants such as La Souterraine we could have at least 6 horses. It represents between 36 and 60 kg of hay per day (which is only part of the horse’s diet) and thus almost 44ha / year3. This is why the Creuse territory is relevant in an urban and landscape design project because it is a place with enough free space to keep a horse not far from the town centres that are not as dense as Paris. Indeed, we already have animals on the edge of the town so why not try to bring them physically closer to the population to reinforce the link that exists between these two species? Moreover, to give this quantity of food to horses, we can easily imagine a partnership with farmers because this animal produces dung (14kg / day) which is considered as “brown gold” and manure (36 to 40 kg / day) so it could be reused to fertilize the fields of many farmers who, in return, could feed the horses with straw and hay. We must think of all these links between the different activities of the territory, because the more people will be involved the less difficult the job will be. Because these partnerships had not been established, some municipalities, that had tried this means of transport in their towns, had to give it up… The solution to continue to support this means of transport would be, according to former municipal employees, to hire a private company to do the job. Indeed no time would be wasted training the town employees

36 | Change gait


Catherine Malen, Etre Cavalier Galops 1 à 4, Manuel Officiel De Préparation Aux Brevets Fédéraux, 1994

37 | Circular economy principles

to look after the animals or to lead a team. But a private company might undermine the convivial aspect because it fits into a consumerist and hyper productive economic model that is no longer viable. An association would be better because everyone who wants to work with horses or add new ideas to the project could contribute to developing the territory and reviving a little rural town like La Souterraine. But there is still an unanswered question: What would be the benefits for each group of people? Regarding the shuttle system within an organization, it could be interesting to develop a local and autonomous economy. In fact this project can be, first, profitable for retailers whose aim is to offer a service while doing business.. They could have new clients, new visibility and popularity and also more time. Then, it could be interesting for the local authorities whose aim is to meet the needs of the inhabitants for better and new mobility; such a service could revive this town and attract some tourists thanks to the positive and convivial image of this project. So they could lend empty green spaces to give more space to the horse near the town centre of La Souterraine. This network of partners could help reduce the pollution, it could also introduce more conviviality by reconnecting people with each other in addition to the contact with the animal which is very appeasing.

Entr’aperçu, 2006 | Zingaro, Bartabas | © Fred Chehu


39 | Conclusion

To conclude and answer the intial question – how can we combine contemporary comfort and mobility related to the past without being negative – it seems important to me to work in phases so that a change, which can be radical, should be accepted by the inhabitants. Although the town of La Souterraine has evoked the idea of a pedestrian town centre in their Agenda21, there is still a long way to go. Creuse is one of the areas where climate change is visible In the landscapes, it is necessary to encourage people to reconsider the way they live and travel through this territory in order to protect it. This project could be, a landmark in this town. Its architecture, designed to meet new challenges, may become a signal in the landscape and reflect the image of a change of attitude which is necessary for the environment. The shape of the project has to reflect new functions and a new way of life. It must be an inspiring image that should get us to change. As we have seen, this can be done by creating new facilities to allow the horse to move and live in the town. But this also implies a change in mentalities, thanks to a new kind of society through conviviality and sharing. This may involve the emergence of networks of help and exchange like barter. In order to anchor a responsible action in practices, it is necessary to set up a system and a structure to support people in this change. A new system like the shuttle could offer comfort to the users and to the animal. If they are offered a convenient and comfortable service, the inhabitants are likely to feel more involved in this change of attitude. Ultimately this may allow people to rethink their relationship with the animal and with the territory of Creuse and to highlight assets that many do not see. Indeed, the territory we deal with has to be revitalized, especially the town centres where businesses are dying little by little. So, for the development of my project, I have to take into account the whole life cycle so as to propose at a small scale a system that works, to then be able to imagine and prospect a wider project, applicable and adaptable everywhere else.

The following bibliography was elaborated to sustain a piece of research carried out in French. Books

Hartmut Rosa Accélération, une critique sociale du temps La Découverte | 2013 | 978-2-7071-7709-4 Aymeric Caron Antispéciste, réconcilier l’humain, l’animal, la nature Don Quichotte | 2017 | 978-2-7578-6621-4 Dominique Lestel L’animalité, essai sur le statut de l’humain Hatier | 1996 | 2-218-71270-9 Catherine Malen Etre Cavalier Galops 1 à 4, Manuel Officiel De Préparation Aux Brevets Fédéraux, Lavauzelle | 1996 | 2-7025-0401-9

40 | Change gait

Jocelyne Porcher Vivre avec les animaux, une utopie pour le XXIe siècle La Découverte | 2014 | 978-2-7071-7838-1


Carolyn Steel How food shapes our cities, TEDGlobal conference | 2009 Faltazi Février 2018 | La Souterraine Website

Website Cradle to Cradle products innovation institue

41 | Bilbiography

Website of BedZed project


43 | Acknoledgements

I would like to thank first, Catherine Pradeau for her help and her precious advices along the writing of this abstract. And, thanks also to Ann Pham Ngoc Cuong and Laurence Pache who supervised all this project in its entirety. Finally, I thank all the teachers for their support in this research project who also offered us a new vision of the world in a sustainable way.

Graphic design : Juliette Géron Fonts : Andralis & Grotesque Paper : Amber Graphic 100 gr & Rives Sensation Gloss 270 gr Printer : School Raymond Loewy Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders of material produced in this dissertation. Any rights not acknowledged here will be acknowledged in subsequent edition if notice is given to the research student.


We live and share the same place and the Earth offers us many spaces to discover, live and travel. However, we must share it between humans and animals...Yet, although the animal and its representations have shaped the human being, our lifestyles and our current society have excluded most of them from our cities, which distances their world from ours. From the horse-drawn car we moved to the car for speed and comfort. Our current ways of transport seem to be no longer adapted to our current unhealthy environment. So let’s change gait! But how?

47 | RĂŠsume

The horse seems to be able to help us. As a sentient being it feels its environment, at its speed, the one that would allow us to rediscover which is around us. This slowness could be an opportunity to slow down our frantic lifestyles and to open the possibilities to rethink our living environment in a union between humans and horses mainly in rural areas where the car has become necessary to cross our spaces and countryside landscapes.

Profile for juliette.geron

Change gait  

This thesis research in design resonates with the necessity to change gait and slow down our rhythms of life due to environmental and social...

Change gait  

This thesis research in design resonates with the necessity to change gait and slow down our rhythms of life due to environmental and social...