From Collectif Etc to « collectifs d’architectes » : a matrix practice of the project for a citizen involvement.
In recent years, “architects’ collectives” occupy a significant part of the media space. But the lack of reflexive or theoretical work, based on scientific investigation, might lead us to believe that we are witnessing a new fad of young architects looking for a better recognition. Do we even know who they are and what they do? These are the two main questions to which we will to answer here. A research is based on opportunities, and mine was to be the co-founder in 2009 of one of these groups, Collectif Etc. I have been one of his main animators, and all this research has been supported on this group.
In a first part of this thesis, and starting from this group, we have highlighted the existence of a network of practitioners, knowing each other and recognizing themselves as “architects’ collective”. Then, by studying a limited corpus, we identified three characteristics of the practice of these groups, leading us to draw a definition of what can today be called an “architects’ collective”: groups, including architectural graduates, whose goal is to foster citizen involvement in the transformation processes of the city in order to create self-managed situations. Their methods of intervention correspond to the combination of the practice of residence, the use of self-construction and the production of ephemeral architectures.
We have developed the hypothesis that these groups developed an original model of project practice, based on the construction of matrices favoring the involvement of multiple actors throughout the project process. For this purpose, we started from the analysis of several actions carried out in recent years by the Collective Etc, allowing us to define three successive matrices that we have called mythogenic, constructive, and political. Then, for each one, a historico-theoretical research allowed us to form more complete definitions, characterizing a matrix practice of the project, favoring citizen involvement. The confrontation of this ideal-type with all the projects of Collectif Etc and then with actions carried out by the members of our restricted corpus of “architects’ collectives”. This enabled us to confirm the relevance of this model, even if the concomitance of these three matrices are only exceptional, raising the limits of the projects carried out by these groups. However, if this model was constructed on from the practice of these groups, we believe that it could be relevant to all practitioners wishing to involve various actors in the city’s manufacturing processes.