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Architecture and Biodiversity – Designing a new urban ecosystem

Chartier Dalix

Architecture and Biodiversity Studies of new prototypes of façade elements integrating biodiversity and taking into account successful thermal qualities to reconcile external insulation and the use of living organisms.

Studies of new prototypes of façade elements integrating biodiversity and taking into account successful thermal qualities to reconcile external insulation and the use of living organisms.

For a few years now, urban areas have been in the limelight. Thanks to the awakening of curiosity about urban ecology, we discover that ecosystemic cities exist. Their balance relies on a set of relations between humans, who constitute the powerful majority, without the flora and the faune being overshadowed. The conservation and development of this balance is now recognized as a necessity to the future of our cities. The presence of green spaces, which have always been part of urban planning, is influenced by a more global reflection on biodiversity. A thriving environment requires continuity, bridges and walkways, connecting vaster pockets of development to be established durably, to develop in an autonomous way and to acquire the strength of a truly functional organisme.

Therefore, including biodiversity in cities means basing our means of manufacturing on this model: grounds must keep their permeability, streets must link zones of vegetation and their casing must also be more inviting…

For several years now, work Chartier-Dalix architects have conducted work on the integration of biodiversity in architecture. Their school group project, in Boulogne, is attracting attention: by conceiving a wall of blocks conceived like an old stone wall, recreating a geometry of cracks, thicknesses, a route for water, they launched a thought process that they want to pursue through new experiments.

The experience feedback is already rewarding: the environment taking shape on this architecture enables confirmation of certain leads and opens up the way for new ones. Following a period of observation in July 2016, it was noted, two years after delivery, that the process of colonization of blocks is in progress, in terms of both fauna and flora and that of 114 listed species, 44 arise from plantations and 70 species arrived spontaneously.

Following this experiment, focus is needed on the following questions, in architectural, cultural, ethical and technical terms:

  • Colonization time by the organism raises the question of reception by the public and that of building maintenance (accepting modifications in time).
  • The appearance of our architecture, integrating biodiversity and the position of the architect faced with these new expressions.
  • The mutual influences and the tolerance of the user in a living environment.
  • The characteristics of materials and their implementation to favour these developments.
  • The statutory criteria of evaluation that could be set up to encourage to this approach.
 Techniques and materials simultaneously allowing the acquisition of good quality insulation while allowing the setting-up of the biodiversity  (Action on existing building).

 All these questions lead to the envisaging of research according to several stages:

Stage 1 
Study phase: constitution of the latest developments 
Reviewing the systems and plans recognized by the specialists as contributing to the continuity of the environments. A study of the perception of organisms, (tolerance, cultures, evolutions and needs) relating to the use of the building and the city. Research on materials, forms and possible implementations.

Experimental Phase
Pooling of the experiments of each of the team members. 
At first, our research could turn to concrete solutions to test several aspects:
- Composition of concrete (for example with typical organic elements hemp or aggregates of re-use, etc..),
- Shape and distribution of pockets for the presence of the substrate,
- Characteristics of the concrete and its capacities of retention or not of water + other capacities (insulation, aesthetic, etc..)

Stage 2
Continuation and development of the experimental phase
This work could then continue by studying different materials (cob, raw earth, wood, etc…), and by amending the first trials by using new prototypes programming. A presentation of this applied research could take the shape of a communication to the general public, people of the profession and institutions.
Project realized by Chartier-Dalix architects.

The project is carried by the agency Chartier-Dalix architects. At this stage, several partners are envisaged: Philippe Clergeau, advisor in urban ecology, professor at the National Natural History Museum; the regional agency for nature and biodiversity, NatureParif (Marc Barra and Gilles Lecuir) and TOPAGER (urban landscaping company).

Frédéric Chartier is an architect, a co-managing partner of the Chartier-Dalix agency of architecture, created in 2008.
Pascale Dalix is an architect and joint manager of the agency. She holds a post-graduate diploma, a holder of a post-graduate diploma of town planning.
Sophie Deramond is an architect and a Dr in contemporary literature. Agency MD and project director within the agency Chartier-Dalix, she also manages the research studio.


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