2023-2024 / ARCH0573-1

Architecture projects Q2 - Theme 1 - Land, Space, Place: occupying the land I


192h Pr

Number of credits

 Master in architecture (120 ECTS)15 crédits 


Sophie Dawance, Virginie Pigeon


Sophie Dawance

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

The "Habiter le territoire I" workshop questions the role of the architect in society and his levers of action on it, thus taking into account the political dimension of architecture.

What kind of social project does a territory carry? How can it respond to the needs of its inhabitants and give rise to new desires, open up imaginations? What are the human and material resources on which it can rely to transform itself by reinforcing its autonomy, its circularity and its sustainability? Does it reveal inequities and injustices? How is the common good preserved? What place is there for Nature? The workshop invites students to collectively explore these questions (and many others) and to reflect through the project on the role that the architect can play in defining desirable futures in a context of social, ecological and health crisis.

This experimentation is anchored in hybrid and changing territories: post-industrial districts on the right bank of the Meuse, the mining town of Saint-Nicolas, the Vesdre valley, ... These territories are close, which allows for regular in situ exploration, and of dimensions that can be grasped by walking, which makes them appropriable and measurable by the body. The territory is not considered as an abstract data "seen from the sky" or a space governed by a set of regulations, but as a place to be physically surveyed, with all the senses. Going to discover it means immersing oneself in its spaces and meeting its inhabitants and users in order to discover its rhythm, its memory, its paradoxes, its poetry and thus to detect the ferments of its possible future.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

The workshop aims at building a critical posture through a collaborative approach to formulate intervention strategies and imagine projects. It aims to develop the student's ability to :

  • forge a personal position, but one that is articulated to collective dynamics, on the issues that fall within the prerogatives of the architect, by becoming aware of the potential and the limits of these prerogatives ;
  • formulate proposals using the specific languages of space and landscape at different scales;
  • to identify and analyse the political effects and consequences of architecture and, more specifically, of the organisation of space, its materialisation, its modes of production, etc.;
  • to apprehend, position oneself and rely on the interplay of actors in a project situation;
  • to know, know how to use and mobilise to good effect, the communication processes and tools necessary to report on one's position.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

The learning process involves prospecting, which invites us to explore and read the territory, and the project, through which scenarios are constructed to be tested spatially on different scales.

1. Prospecting: identifying the resources of the territory and the societal issues it carries in order to co-construct a systemic reading.

Immersion in the territory, as well as documentary research and its reappropriation through drawing in particular, make it possible to identify the material and immaterial resources specific to the place and to construct a plural view of it. Particular attention is paid to the uses and the stories or imaginary stories that the territory carries, which implies specific work with the actors (meetings, public workshops, exploratory walks, etc.). From there, it is a question of identifying the discourses and imaginaries relating to the future of this territory carried by the different categories of actors, and then to state, collectively, the socio-spatial stakes specific to the place and the privileged levers of action.

2. Project: to build desirable futures, spatialised scenarios and test them on different scales.

Contrasting scenarios of territorial change are then formulated by the students in small interacting groups. These strategies are tested in a very concrete way by the project on certain parts of the territory (a public space, a wasteland, a set of residual spaces, the heart of the district,...) and/or around certain issues (the green and blue network, the question of common goods, the nourishing network,...) allowing to (de)show their interest and feasibility. 

In a transversal way, the workshop proposes to put three specific approaches at the service of these prospecting and project approaches.

- Appropriating and inventing design and representation tools

Drawing, both manual and digital, is a privileged tool for discovering the terrain: reappropriating cartography, manipulating it, breaking it down, reinventing it allows us to reveal new facets of the place, new resources. Drawing a map helps to build ideas, to structure a thought, to make the project concrete.

Drawing is also one of the possible interfaces with the inhabitants and users of the territory. It is explored in this sense, as a tool for communication with peers and with other audiences. Other tools for interaction with the public (workshops, actions in the public space, temporary installations, sensitive cartography, etc.) are also implemented and a critical reflection on what is commonly known as citizen participation is developed.

All these creative steps are part of the project process. They are based on a rich baggage of references co-constructed, deployed by professionals from the world of planning, graphic design and art as a source of inspiration, stimulation and questioning.

- Relying on collaborative practices

The collaborative practices are at the basis of the ways of thinking and acting in the "Habiter le territoire I" workshop; this involves the co-production of knowledge and peer review within the  workshop.

- Educational trip

The course includes a short immersion stay in the project area. 

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face to face

Recommended or required readings

The workshop "Habiter le territoire I" integrates the co-construction of a theoretical baggage that includes :

  • imposed readings to build up a common baggage and a portfolio of articles and books from which to draw according to the questions that arise;
  • meetings with resource persons who are not architects and architects organised in the form of exchanges or joint work rather than conferences or any form of vertical transmission;
  • moments of debate and exchange within the workshop based on the students' readings.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

oral exam

Written work / report

Continuous assessment

Additional information:

The evaluation is continuous in the form of a reflective process with resource persons from outside the workshop and a regular peer review. Two more formal evaluation periods are organised with an external jury. The student's commitment to the work of the workshop and his or her participation in the dynamics of the workshop is also assessed (10% pedagogical rating).

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

The workshop includes an immersion stay in the project area.


Association of one or more MOOCs