“Fabcity isn’t just data, it’s also about doing together”
Published 19 June 2018 by Ewen Chardronnet
The ManufActeurs are part of the people building the fabcity in Brest, Brittany. Makery met Julien Masson, member of this collective of architects, designers and landscapers, driving force of the city resilience.
Brest, special envoy
Julien Masson, 35, product and space designer, is a major actor of the Fab City Brest, the worldwide network of cities that campaign for the relocalization of production on urban ground. This design teacher at the Brittany Higher European School of Art (EESAB) is involved in the recycling center and works with the local fablab, the UBO Open Factory. Along with architects, designers and landscapers, this specialist of eco-design is part of the ManufActeurs collective, created in 2017, that is leading several participative and reemployment projects in the city. Meeting.
What drove you to create the ManufActeurs?
With Romain Gicquiaux, a designer from Paris, Manuel Henry, an architect who studied in Nantes, Aurore Delavergne from the collective Quatorze in Paris, we formed a collective of architects, designers, landscapers, ManufActeurs, hosted by Chrysalide, the Finistère department business and employment cooperative. Our philosophy is to work on everything concerning a participative approach including the notion of circular economy. We would like to set up a true material library in Brest to attract resources, by including the citizen, extending the thought process to the issue of common goods.
Which projects did you carry out?
In 2017, we set up the Reading gardens at the Capucins, this new place appearing at the end of the cable car, a true playing field for children. The inhabitants of Brest have great respect for this place of living together. Six modules created in cooperation with Passerelle, the contemporary art center and Le Fourneau, street art center, works for use, for picnics, children, etc. The inhabitants took part in their making. For each production of common goods, we let them build something that they could take back home. They are in a way our ambassadors. This is how we, ManufActeurs, see the fabcity: through cross-learning, the spreading of making and know-how, through pooling. This is why we allowed free access to the plans.
Which vision of the fabcity do you wish to favor?
Fabcity isn’t only large cartographies of digital data, deposits and resources, it’s also about taking a screw-gun, a hand saw, working with a retired person from the dockyard. This is where the fabcity reveals itself, with very little means. As part of a city contract for the new city district of Bellevue, we made benches, furniture on wheels, graphic workshops, with people from all generations. Although the experience only lasted one day, it met a great success. The inhabitants asked for more.
I regard the concept of fabcity as a human to human connection. Concretely, a designer generates waste; one needs to think ahead about material deposits. When I arrived in Brest, I took a great interest in social and solidarity economy via the department development association. Then I met Emmanuel Gazin from the recycling center Un peu d’R. The first project that brought us together, in 2013, was a project for a dance company, Moral Soul. We had to convert the old Relecq-Kerhuon railroad station into an artistic residence cultural place. With an envelope of €10,000 for interior design, we proposed with the recycling center a demonstration of reemployment possibilities. For a final cost of €6,000, we demonstrated we could do things differently.
What happened after this first work site?
We pursued our collaboration so well that I became vice-president of the recycling center. Crédit Mutuel Arkéa took an interest in our model and we integrated them in a virtuous approach, fabcity type. We also involved the fablab, cooperated with Oceanopolis and the Quartz national stage to salvage the materials from exhibitions and shows, the shipping containers that usually go to the dump, on the model of La Réserve des arts in Paris or Stations Services in Nantes.
How did you join the Fab City Brest project?
Ma specialty is eco-design. As a teacher at the Brittany art school, I joined Xavier Moulin’s team, who founded the design and transition Masters degree, where the designer asks himself how to make and create a link with the territory economy, attract resources and invent new materials, etc. We got together with different actors of the territory, like Yves Quéré, university electronics teacher who wanted to set up a fablab. The wedding with the fablab was natural, in order to think about a university degree crossing the engineer and the designer’s work as well as around the idea of Fabcity, to consider the resilience of a territory, energy, food, services and economy issues. A former design student Anne le Gars, is today one of the fabmanagers of Open Factory.
What are your sources of inspiration?
We like what the Atelier Bivouac is doing on the abandoned railway site Chapelle Charbon in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. Atelier Bivouac led a great project last year at Saint-Thégonnec. In April, we invited them to work with us on a project between the art school and the community parkland around the the Keroual wood, in Brest, where a great number of trees had fallen during the Zeus storm. The stumps were to be incinerated. We proposed a one-week workshop with the atelier Bivouac in open-air, between EESAB and the advanced technician’s certificate in design from Lycée Vauban. We involved Jérôme Letur, an artisan carpenter from the Finistère department and his mobile sawmill, who gets around to cut wood, rafters, cross beams, brackets, etc. Together we designed tables and picnic spaces, enhanced a washhouse…Different actions in order to show that the designer can help to move away from standard constructions. The local government was interested and the parkland teams now want to train in design.
We would like to encourage this reemployment method to imagine urban furniture made locally, that wouldn’t be bought from a catalogue and shipped from the other side of Europe. In future, we would also like to think about stone, demolition, by following the example of Rotor Deconstruction in Belgium, that steps in to dismantle buildings, strips building due to be demolished, lists everything and is a guide for reemployment. There are many things to imagine…
Follow the activities of the ManufActeurs
Fab City Summit in Paris, from July 11-13