Selected project – Alexandra Schartner – Cross-Border Placemaking
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Rural border obsolescence and perspective
Rural borderlands are a space of obsolescence and perspective. But truly rural border villages are a space of borderless opportunities, that provides new development perspectives. This French-German space, that we are looking at, consists of former mining sites and slagheaps and pit basins, of old production sites and customs architectures, of hidden architectural monuments and historical landmarks, of disused railway stations, of closed cafés and of family ties lost across borders. The perspective is to re-create all of it, with a placemaking network reimagining new common rural place: coworking spaces, cultural venues, regional production, new housing within existing structures, places of education and knowledge transfer, mobility hubs, pop-up gastronomies and regional events – all across borders.
The idea of villages learning from cities and the other way around is a dynamic approach gaining importance because of the change of times we live in. Architects and planners are currently discussing the so called „construction turn“, the ideological turn in building sustainably for a resilient society. Meanwhile urbanists and geographers have been working on the “spatial turn” for over 30 years, that aims a research and development centered around our society and the actions of its individuals. Today we are living in the middle of various crises and diverse turns: energy, mobility, construction, demography … And now a border turn? A development that is led by and emanates from the borders we create every day through our commonplace actions: political, social, architectural? A development that starts at a border location, grows across borders, shapes border places, thus making a border space.
Multiple identities and stages
Border areas are peripheries and centers in equal measure. The German-French borderlands are characterized by rural villages interrupted but not overshadowed by urban clusters. Here, almost secretly, as insider tips, cross-border places are emerging where the region is growing closer together and a common identity is being formed. Do people who live in European border areas feel more European? Probably not, but the peripheral cross-border places embody a European idea and create new intersections like no other.
Cross-border placemaking transforms space through the visible impulses of projects that strive in the field where cultural exchange meets the transformation of what already exists. The whole transformation can be describing in multiple stages. The adapting stage is aiming at the cross border cultural adoption: individuals and communities in one country embracing elements of the culture from a neighboring country. The bordering stage is a cultural cross-bordering, developing the commonplace practice of crossing borders and consciously overcoming them. The placing stage is the conscious action in a certain place that is temporarily placing both the place and the action in an explicit and exceptional cross-border context, aiming for a permanent transformation. The making stage combines the previous ones into a cross-border placemaking network, for exchange and creates a new coherent cross-border space, a new image and future of the rural areas and villages