1 — 7 July 2012
Located on the outskirts of the historic center of Bordeaux, in the heart of the mutating industrial maritime area Bassin à flots, the Bordeaux Submarine Base (BSB) represents a considerable urban challenge. This old bunker built by the Germans during World War II, considered indestructible, boasts unusual architectural features: its size (42,000 m2) and the size of its constructive elements (3-meter thick walls).
Part cultural center and partly abandoned, the BSB’s future raises several questions, namely due to its identity, tied to the war and German occupation, and for pragmatic reasons, linked to its massive size and high refurbishment costs.
At the invitation of the city of Bordeaux, the Studio International BSB (July 1 to 7, 2012) aimed to incite a reflection on the future of BSB with 5 prospective development proposals. The proposals were designed by students from École Spéciale d’Architecture de Paris, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Faculté d’Architecture La Cambre-Horta de l’Université Libre de Bruxelles and CUPUM. They allowed for exploration of the potential reallocation of interior spaces and of the building’s integration constraints in a future urban area. While experimenting on the site’s future, the proposals also questioned the spirit of place and the slow transformation of public perceptions associated with a historical military site.
Results from the workshop were presented to Mr. Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux, and to members of the municipal administration. They were also exhibited during the 5th edition of AGORA - Bordeaux’s biennial of architecture, urban planning, and design - held from Septemeber 13 to 16, 2012.
For the 3rd consecutive year, Studio international BSB took part in an academic cooperation between France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Canada, which aimed to explore the potential of prospective design in generating reflections on a city’s future.
The workshop subscribes to the wider context of CUPUM's reflections on cityscapes, and more particularly, on how landscape projects can provide relevant answers to the many challenges faced by urban areas seeking renewal. Based on brainstorming and territorial analysis (e.g. creative workshop, idea contest), this type of reflection is founded on action-based research of existing urban areas, encouraging a deeper understanding of issues and aspirations tied to these sites, how to reveal their potential for redevelopment, if not reinvention.