Studio An Fonteyne

Julien Tacca

A Park for Europe

Europe is currently facing a crisis of the representation. The two antique representations at the basis of our society: the politic, democratic and the artistic, theatrical one have abandoned since a long time their original outdoor and public location to go always further behind walls. Nowadays they are hidden in protected government building or elitist museum and from this developed itself a sense of theft from the citizen that just assists to the release of already taken decisions without being able to play its social role.

Nevertheless through the recent development of the internet the population found digital ways to access to information and express opinions. But the constant flow of dematerialized information that comes to our consciousness managed to blur it and fake news or false interpretations might be processed without critical distance.

As a result Europe doesn’t need an umpteenth building or a better online platform but needs a park. Because the park is a democratic exception in the urban context that particularly allows for informality, appropriation and participation to take place and this is the kind of space that the citizens need to debate about the European question. There citizen are invited to come, walk around, take a step back from the current buzz, think and ponder, position themselves and play their own role in the framework of European construction and modification.

As a park, the building is designed like a fluid space which can be visited following different paths, connecting different platforms and programs. On the back side programs tends to focus more on the self‐awareness and contemplation with libraries, research desks and relaxation spaces whereas on the street side the collective participation is encouraged through workshops, and co‐working, reunion spaces. Vegetation by its unusual presence in a building context creates an environment where normative relations between people themselves and between people and things or concepts are simplified. The informality and constant changes rule so that the space allows the meeting and development of various citizen initiatives.

Bridging all those programs are given three more formal spaces: the hall, the auditorium and the rotunda; that are used as stages for the citizen to play their own role and are thus the spaces dedicated to representation for the people by the people. They can be used for various planned or improvised activities and can attract users passing around or busy with other things. Whereas the other programs were addressing the self of a group, those stages truly address the society in its entireness and thus are the cornerstone of both the building and Europe.

Attention is given to the placement of programs so that the movements of different type of users through the day intersect to trigger the unexpected and serendipity. Knowledge and action have to come together in order to gain meaning and power. For this purposes spaces for displaying the results of research or workshops are directly placed along the paths leading to the other programs.

By visiting the park either as a tourist, as a neighbour or as participant a citizen takes the risk to be exposed to various opinions, to be dragged into many activities and to transform into an obsessed activist, or at least become more aware of the European situation.

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