PAP35 - Landscape and Transition in the Training of Landscape Designers

December 2019

Le Collectif Paysages de l’Après-Pétrole (PAP)

Anxious to ensure the energy transition and, more generally, the transition of our societies towards sustainable development, 40 planning professionals have come together in an association to promote the central role that landscape approaches can play in land-use planning policies.

In this article, Béatrice Julien -Labruyère, landscape designer, lecturer at the Ecole nationale supérieure du paysage de Versailles - Marseille, addresses the issue of energy transition in the training of landscape designers.

To download : article-35-collectif-pap-bjl.pdf (3.1 MiB)

The regional educational workshops, a pedagogical tool for approaching the transition through the landscape

The expression « transition through landscape » has been used since 2018 by landscape architect Bertrand Folléa in the framework of the activities of the Landscape and Energy Chair at the Ecole nationale supérieure du paysage de Versailles-Marseille (ENSP) 1. In a more general way, this title is appropriate to evoke a theme explored in many forms since the 1980s at the school, particularly within the Regional Pedagogical Workshops (APR). The territory project workshops were launched in 1984 by the landscape architect Michel Corajoud2 and his teaching team. For 35 years, the protocol of the APRs has provided for the professional situation of young landscape gardeners based on real orders, supervised by professional landscape gardeners (including many landscape consultants from the State).

These exercises have contributed to the development of the practice of the profession of landscape designer, to landscape commissions and more generally to the notion of transition through landscape. Since I joined the ENSP in 1998, the teaching of numerous personalities3 has forged my convictions on the « landscape by project approach » as a method for approaching the world, and more specifically the future of this complex and fragile world which, at the time, saw the concept of sustainable development emerge in the political sphere.

Within the RPAs, the political, scientific and economic vision of sustainable development was to be explored by landscape architects. Representation of landscape, inhabited landscape, landscape as a common good, living landscape: over the years, the practice of regional educational workshops has supported the development of landscape thinking at the school of Versailles. On a regional scale, a culture of landscape was born in certain regions such as in Paca where the ENSP-Marseille was set up. Projecting the large territory with institutional partners is one of the innovations of these pedagogical exercises, which have encouraged the emergence of urban planning through landscape and the establishment of metropolitan projects, as well as the invention of new attractive, economically viable territories, overturning the urban-rural divide to develop balanced and more ecological landscapes4.

Multi-year collaborations are emerging at the ENSP with actors confronted with the vagaries of climate in order to creatively experiment with ecological, sustainable, sober and resilient approaches for which landscape designers are responsible. The students tackle the notions of climatic, vegetalized and nourishing cities; anticipation of risks such as rising water levels; food security and global agricultural responsibilities; industrial reconversions; soil depollution and fertilization; low-carbon infrastructures; creation of living landscapes that are low in energy consumption. Gathered within thematic programmes - water, coastline, land, health, mobility, energy - these partnerships explore the technological, scientific and cultural developments related to the ecological transition with the contribution of researchers, teachers, engineers and elected officials.

The ENSP Landscape and Energy Chair, a pedagogical innovation mechanism on the energy transition

Anchored in the teaching of the ENSP since 2015, the Landscape and Energy Chair brings together an important body of knowledge incorporated in the training of landscape architects. In 2019, the post-master « Landscape and Transition(s), New Energy Landscapes » explored, in the form of a one-year laboratory, the possible evolution of project practices in an energy transition perspective.

The training, organised around a set of RPAs and courses given by engineers, energy specialists, institutions, philosophers, researchers, artists and climatologists5, demonstrated the usefulness of telling the story of energy landscapes. Studying the era of all-oil and electricity landscapes makes it possible to approach an infinite field of study in landscape, that of the links between man and the energy he has had over time, and the transformations in climate that result from them today.

The synthesis proposed by the documentary Man has eaten the earth6 proves it. This film shows how a series of economic, political and technological choices led 20th century societies to the massive use of petrochemicals and global liberal pressure on resources.

Reserves of oil, coal, gas and uranium are running out and many industrial cities like Norilsk bear witness to the extent of pollution induced by steel and mining complexes, questioning the links between mining codes and territorial ethics7.

The prospect of stock depletion and the diversity of energy ideologies have given rise to several types of prospective scenarios. Some are pushing our humanity towards a « geological war » aimed at appropriating uranium resources in order to continue to develop nuclear power, the invisible force in whose name we think of an « all-electric » future that could favour the decarbonised transition while aggravating insoluble pollution. Other scenarios such as those of the collapsologists prepare humanity for a « thermo-industrial collapse ». Aware of the growing scarcity of fossil energy sources, others are looking for a neo-electric world based on renewables and a solidarity-based economy. The founders of negaWatt have set themselves the goal of showing that another energy future is possible according to three principles to be developed in this order:

1 - the search for energy sobriety,

2 - the search for energy efficiency,

3 - the development of renewable energies.

Fanny Lopez, an architectural historian, evokes the notion of « capitalocene » in her book « l’ordre électrique » and in her lectures. She describes the links that exist between energy and the history of architecture, leading to the observation that we live in cities and countryside mainly designed by the spatialization of energy, and whose constructive innovations are linked to the models of large industrial service networks. From heating to electricity in homes, inventions and energy connections have marked urban planning according to a non-renewable « infrastructural matrix » that has conditioned our landscapes since the end of the 19th century.

What renewable energy landscapes do we then want to build? The Chair’s « new energy landscapes » lectures question the way in which certain renewable energies are developing in France and describe what a landscape project can bring to the process. Wind turbines, which are highly visible in space, are a good example of how to understand the distance that exists between the current development of renewable energies and what a landscape project could bring. A standardised object, wind turbines are installed in our country in small groups on negatively defined areas, those not already protected as cultural heritage or environment8. In the name of landscape protection, wind sprawl landscapes are then being installed elsewhere in places. Conversely, developing a landscape project in consultation with all the stakeholders makes it possible to create energy-producing landscapes and put an end to the current imbroglios affecting energy companies struggling to develop their products, inhabitants who do not want to see them and institutions saturated with cumbersome and complex procedures.

The diversity of renewable energies is immense if we consider the many flows of the « earth system » and their cyclical dimension that make the sun, wind and tidal forces an unlimited capital for renewables9. Landscape designer training touches on life sciences as well as the humanities. Through its phenomenological approach to energy, landscape education makes it possible to project a better understanding of the sustainability of life. Territorializing the energy transition through the landscape project based on a sharing of skills with engineers seems to be a way for some sites to develop citizen programs and policies for energy sobriety and energy efficiency research using local resources. This is the case of the former thermal power plant in Aramon (Gard), where the result of a partnership between local authorities and EDF led to an ecological transition contract with the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition. The energy mix project has since been the subject of numerous works with landscape architect Joris Masafont and during a multidisciplinary workshop involving post-master landscape architects and engineering students from the Ecole des Mines de Paris (Mines Paris Tech). The short time of the workshop encouraged the invention of radical visions-fictions. The fuel oil storage tanks, the engine room and the chimney more than 250 meters high were transformed according to several scenarios combining technique, production and design into living space for the inhabitants, places of agricultural development and production of solar energy, methanisation from agricultural waste or hydrogen.

A look at the work of the 2019 « New Energy Landscapes » postgraduate program

The post-master’s RPAs, formulated by energy players such as RTE, EDF and Boralex10, testify to the commitment of major companies to the energy transition, aware of the changes of the times and the new areas of public awareness. What is most surprising is the way in which the students’ proposals not only satisfy this desire, but sometimes fulfil it beyond all expectations. The study of RTE substations in different urban areas has been an opportunity for the energy producer to become a partner in the desired developments towards greater energy sobriety and the development of new amenities in the city. The students proposed to develop the multifunctionality of transformer stations by imagining sites in direct contact with consumption in order to encourage the group and the inhabitants to promote energy sobriety and efficiency practices, both through a proposal for a lighting design that signals the energy consumption of the district in real time, and also through the development of public spaces dedicated to the production of human energy and the installation of a black screen along ecological continuities. The transformer then becomes an indicator and a transition tool. In addition, the relay system constituted by electrical substations encouraged the students to map these networks on a metropolitan scale. The relay stations were identified as potential stops for new urban practices: biodiversity areas, public reception, sheepfolds. With these proposals, the energy producer shows its societal vocation through the development of multifunctional production and distribution spaces of an ecological nature. The theme of the workshops planning the decommissioning of nuclear power plants has led the EDF Group to landscape fictions with a strong symbolic charge. The decommissioning of production units in the UNGG (natural uranium graphite gas) sector is complex and will take a long time. During their work this year, Fanny Jaouen and Clémence Galliot developed the concept of « ruining the nuclear landscape » by proposing that the industrial establishment should gradually fade away in order to achieve a return to grass within a hundred year perspective. The « putting in vestige » of the air-cooling towers becomes a landscape strategy, turning these objects into territorial sculptures that bear witness to an era and are a sign in a territory in transition. To mark the ruin process, the students proposed to EDF to develop, at each stage, an action symbolizing and accompanying the territorial transition in its different dimensions: beyond the installation of renewable energy resources, urban, rural or domestic power plants will allow an appropriation of the interconnection systems between the different energy sources, highlighting in particular the management of water and hydraulic forces. In places deserted by industrial buildings, the land will be brought back to life for the production of food crops.

As part of her personal work on the « posture of transitions », Chloé Savalle proposed an illustrated reconstruction of the year’s key visits. Visiting the Tricastin nuclear power plant in an anti-radiation suit is a striking experience within the gigantic machines that ensure nuclear fission and its use; descending into the basement of the Louveciennes transformer, a sensory journey that displays the power of the cables and allows a concrete understanding of the reality of the energy network; entering a wind turbine in Beauce planted in a large agricultural plain questions the future archaeological imprint of the new energy objects. Chloé then distinguishes two categories on the basis of which to consider landscape development, « machinemonde » and « machinessite ». The machine-world, the great flagship object of energy production, aims to perpetuate the growth of consumption by developing a hypercomplex energy system that connects and normalizes in a homogeneous and totalizing way. On the other hand, the student cites two exhibitions that this year offered another vision of the world, that of the « site-machine » weaving a relationship between man and site in terms of agricultural production. Capital agricole11 and Le Goût du paysage12 present Ile-de-France farmers and citizens who cultivate their roots in the territory, adapt machines to their land and see Ile-de-France as a fertile land with a nourishing future, capable of producing energy and being a carbon sink for tomorrow. In contrast to field crops and the resulting race for biotechnologies and agricultural machinery, the « machine-site » favours the assembly of small productive spaces, tightening the link between production sites and places of use. The « machine-world » induces a deterritorialized and unmeasured consumption of energy; the « machine-site » installs spaces on a human scale and participates in a sober cultivation of the territories. Etienne Maliet, a post-master student, explored the idea that we will be able to invent new relationships with energy through urban creation. He outlines a vision of urban metabolism from the point of view of energy performance by proposing a symbiotic relationship between the city and its environment. To achieve this, he imagines a time when Île-de-France’s agriculture will be converted to organic farming and when the nitrogen cycle will be closed on a metropolitan scale thanks to the recycling of nutrients contained in organic matter of all kinds: livestock effluents, crop residues and other organic by-products from human activities. He describes the city of soft and collective mobility as a grazed bocage, where certain pedestrian streets that have become sheep tracks reinforce the futuristic aspect of the productive city. In his utopian project, the Haussmann-style building, an untouchable heritage, becomes the medium for experiments where energy sobriety is put into practice, where urban collective life and regional farmland cooperate and welcome migrants in a peaceful way. It details the benefits of urine which, once pumped at the level of each co-ownership, is treated for agricultural or chemical uses.

The bioclimatic aspect of the heritage building is reinforced by a rooftop extension of low-pressure solar concentrators. It illustrates a pragmatic Parisian collective life where humans, soon to be paid to pedal, do sports to keep the elevators or the freight elevator of the building running and in which the electricity of our leds and computer batteries is self-produced by cogeneration. According to him, the intelligent city will be the one that informs all citizens of the water, carbon and nitrogen cycles in real time so that everyone can modulate their pace of electricity, gas, travel and water consumption according to the vagaries of the climate context.

The landscape designer, a positive player in climate change

Teaching the landscape from climate issues opens up a field of skills in which the designer immediately projects himself in a multidisciplinary way in the face of the energy, agricultural and urban revolutions to be carried out. Through his global vision as a catalyst for desirable transformations, the landscape designer carries within him the potential of a theorist-practitioner of the balance of complex systems capable of imagining how a sober approach to territories and a profound transformation of our lifestyles can coincide.

As a designer, the landscape gardener is an ambassador for the future. In landscape as in architecture, the prospective act and the concept are a means of inventing new relationships to the future induced and conditioned by the care of the present. The concept of the « planetary garden » invented by Gilles Clément13 is a perfect example of this. Considering the planet as a garden implies the responsibility of mankind to collectively take care of the earth and to develop its territory in a sustainable way. In the same way, the concept of « festive ecology » deployed by Alfred Peter allows a proposal for anticipating natural disasters through the practice of festivities based on the federating ecology of social ties and the common good, for example on sites affected by rising water levels. As a landscaper, the landscape designer is capable of thoughtfully inducing a change at all scales in the impact of our human lives on the world, in the context of the links between climate and development14. The Ter agency’s achievements in « urban planning of living environments » bear witness to this15. We have the capacity, as a multidisciplinary team, to act on living things in our urban projects in order to provide climate services in each given situation. The programming of new sustainable territories will increasingly call upon the landscape architect’s skills, his ability to describe and program the future of spaces and situations by responsibly activating all the interconnections that exist between the human species and its terrestrial environment. The coordination of multidisciplinary teams to invent the territories of ecological transition is the responsibility of landscape designers who are able to articulate multiple fields of expertise for cross-cutting and multiscalar projects.

1 Established by Vincent Piveteau, Director of the ENSP and Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, this chair develops within the school the training, research and creation that the energy transition landscape calls for. It enjoys the active support of its partners, including the Ministry of Ecology and Solidarity Transition, RTE as a founding partner, Ademe and Boralex. Head of the chair: Bertrand Folléa, landscape architect. Project manager: Auréline Doreau, engineer. Bertrand Folléa is also the author of L’Archipel des métamorphoses - la transition par le paysage, collection La Nécessité du paysage, Editions Parenthèses, 2019.

2 Excerpt from the writings of Michel Corajoud’s teaching at the ENSP - Atelier Le Nôtre 3rd year 1984-1985: « The regional workshops offer the possibility, at the end of the training, of carrying out long projects covering all disciplinary fields. They are complex projects that put the landscape students in a pre-professional situation, in a situation of confrontation with reality: a field, multiple scales, numerous social interlocutors and actors, stakes, constraints, more or less precise sectorial programs. The management of each project will be under the main responsibility of a Le Notre teacher, which will not prevent the simultaneous presence of the members of the teaching team. This pedagogical management will also associate the various disciplinary fields represented within the departments (environmental, technical, visual arts, humanities).

3 Jacques Sgard, Jacques Simon, Michel Corajoud, Michel Desvigne, Gilles Clément, Gilles Vexlard, Alain Dervieux, Christophe Girod, Gabriel Chauvel, Marc Rumelhart and Karin Helms have worked to train my generation of landscape artists to the project and to question the landscape commission.

4 Examples of APR subjects illustrating the variety of commissions related to transitions :

  • Waterproofing soils in the historic center of Marseille. Sidebar : François-Xavier Mousquet / Students : Floriane Gormotte, Adèle Justin, Joris Masafont.

  • What green and sustainable growth for living in Creuse? Supervisor : Claire Laubie / Students: Geoffrey Léger, Toumi Omrane, Mélissandre Phan.

  • The post-carbon landscapes of the Loire estuary. Supervisor: Jean-Marc L’Anton / Students: Nicolas Cazabat, Johan Tangapriganin, Nadav Joffe.

  • Amiens, laboratory of metropolitan ambitions. Supervisor: Florence Mercier / Students: Charlotte Beau Yon de Jonage, Clément Lecuru, Camille Régimbart.

  • Depollution of the port of Hourdel in the Bay of the Somme. Supervisors: Alain Freytet & Romain Quesada / Students: Léa Le bras, Guillaume Jousse.

  • Agropastoralism at the Unesco site of the Causses and Cévennes. Supervisor: Jacques Sgard / Students: Lucile Chapsal, Martin Danais, Bérénice Rigal

  • Landscape strategy of the PETR du Haut Rouergue. Box : François-Xavier Mousquet / Students: Chloé Savalle and Alice Labouré.

5 List of teachers for the post master 2019 : Lucien Chabason (Iddri), Philippe Blanc (teacher at the Ecole des Mines), Yves Marignac (Wise Paris), Claire Alliod (landscape designer), Florence Mercier (landscape designer), Manon Cadoux (APR Recherche Action), Christina Ottaviani (designer), Simon Boudvin (teaching artist ENSP), Patrick Moquay (Larep ENSP), Jean-Marc Besse (geographer and philosopher), Gilles Tiberghien (philosopher), Odile Marcel (philosopher, president of the Collectif PAP), Olivier Marty (artist teacher ENSP), Brigitte Fargevieille (EDF), Bertrand Folléa (Landscape and Energy Chair), Claude Chazelle (landscape architect), Claire Laubie (landscape architect), François-Xavier Mousquet (landscape architect), Roberta Pistoni (Larep/Wur), Joris Masafont (landscape architect, doctoral student Larep), Anne Rumin (doctoral student Sciences Po), Nathalie de Noblet (Giec), Emmanuele Coccia (philosopher), Fanny Lopez (Ensa Paris-Malaquais), Julien Dossier (Quattrolibri), François Abelanet (artist), Jonathan Weill (EDF Stratégie), Barbara Nicoloso (association Virage Energie), Auréline Doreau (project manager, Landscape and Energy Chair).

6 L’Homme a mangé la terre, Jean-Robert Viallet, Arte 2019. From the industrial revolution to today, a meticulous deciphering of the race for development that marked the anthropocene era (or era of Man) and the continuous deterioration of the planet.

7 Excerpt from the courses of the post master’s program of Engineers without Borders + Revue Z n°12 Guyane trésors et onquêtes, article: « Les bas fonds du capital ».

8 The « zone of least environmental interest » is the one that is not subject to any specific protection under the environmental code.

9 Each year, the sun sends 1,070,000 petawatt hours (PWh, or 1015 Wh) to the earth, more than 8,000 times the annual world energy consumption (133 PWh in 2005).

10 Boralex, the largest independent producer of electricity from onshore wind power in France, develops, builds and operates renewable energies. The Group has been a partner of the Landscape and Energy Chair since late 2018.

11 Capital agricole, chantiers pour une ville cultivée is an exhibition created by the Pavillon de l’Arsenal in 2019 under the direction of SOA / Augustin Rosenstiehl, architect. Graphic design: Sylvain Enguehard.

12 Organized as part of the first edition of the Biennale of Architecture and Landscape (4 May - 13 July 2019) at the Potager du Roi, on the historic site of the École nationale supérieure de paysage, the exhibition Le Goût du paysage was accompanied by a series of meetings designed by Alexandre Chemetoff, landscape architect, architect, urban planner and curator of the event.

(note) 13] The « planetary garden » is a concept that makes it possible to jointly consider the diversity of beings on the planet and the management role of mankind within this diversity. This concept was forged from a triple observation: ecological finiteness, the planetary mixing of species, and the anthropic cover of the terrestrial environment.

14 The work of Nathalie de Noblet, a climatologist at the IPCC, bears witness to this. Her study of the history of climate co-evolution is particularly striking. Read the IPCC report Climate Change, Land Use and Food Security, which describes how sustainable forest management and soil fertilization dynamics constitute new ecosystems capable of absorbing more carbon.

15 The Ter agency, a landscape and urban planning agency, was founded in 1986 by three associates, Henri Bava, Michel Hössler and Olivier Philippe. Based in Paris, Karlsruhe, Barcelona, Shanghai and Los Angeles, the agency experiments urban planning through landscape and contributes to the construction of territorial and urban ecosystems. Henri Bava, Michel Hössler and Olivier Philippe were awarded the Grand Prix National de l’Urbanisme in 2018.