Caen Island: Public Space

Caen is a city of 100,000 inhabitants situated in Normandy, France. Partially reconstructed after World War II, today the city holds lofty architectural ambitions. The Caen Presque Ile, an industrial peninsula defined by canals and rivers, is in the midst of an urban massive transformation. These transformations are currently the object of study by MVRDV. At the tip of this peninsula, in the center of downtown, we find the “Ile de Caen,” or Caen Island, a territory of 12 hectares where the city is constructing a number of large public amenities. A public library, designed by OMA, is the most iconic building, yet there are a number of additional available lots whose program remains to be defined.

Approximately 5 hectares of public space on the Ile de Caen will be designed and built in the near future, with the design team being led by Michel Desvigne Paysagiste and Inessa Hansch Architecte. This zone is the subject of the option studio investigation. The island is an extraordinary prototype that concentrates and miniaturizes an exceptional sampling of urban situations and diverse typologies of public space—esplanade, plaza, quay, courtyard, parvis, roads, gardens, and large meadows. The size is manageable given their designation as case studies and interventions can be finely developed at an architectural scale.

The project brief, in real life as in the studio, alternates between two points of view, architecture and landscape architecture. This exchange is required as a confluence of competencies is needed in order to develop both the matrix of spatial composition and also to imagine how certain constructed elements constitute nodes of intensity that orient and animate the larger public landscape.

The studio will mimic the actual situation: the program, the phases, the rhythms, and the supporting documents demanded of participates will be dictated by the rigorous needs of the client. Each student will specialize in different areas of focus, studying either a specific site or design typology with the guidance and direction of Michel Desvigne and Inessa Hansch. Ilana Cohen will be a teaching associate. A studio trip is organized in Caen, to visit the site and meet with the clients. After the completion of the studio, student work will be presented in an exposition in the city of Caen, in the Norman Pavilion, situated on the site.

Ilana Cohen will be acting as Teaching Associate for the studio.

IRREGULAR SCHEDULE: Thursday and Friday 2:00 – 6:00
Class meets on the following dates: January 23, 24, 30, 31, February 6, 7, 13, 14, March 6, 7, 13, 14, 27, 28, April 10, 11, 17 and 18.
STUDIO TRIP: March 17 – 21.