Some fifty participants gathered at the 2018 feedback forum of the “Habiter l’eau” (Living at the water's edge) laboratory, held on 18 May in Angers: among them teachers and students, directors and policy officers of urban planning agencies and the Établissement Public Loire, government departments and Mission Val de Loire. Beyond the pooling of results (project design, programming and assessment), the focus was also on identifying recurring themes and highlighting lessons that could be learned.
The fate of the river landscape from a climate change perspective
The morning began with a presentation of the Loire Bretagne climate adaptation plan, approved on 26 April, given by Stéphanie Anton, Chair of the Basin Committee Loire Plan - Flooding Commission and Vice-Chair of the Val Dhuy Loiret Water Management and Development Plan (SAGE) Local Water Commission, and Carine Biot, SAGE policy officer and territorial engineer at the Établissement Public Loire.
Four key principles underpin this plan:
- Always have a benefit irrespective of the scale of climate change,
- Do not hinder the sustainable development of territories,
- Foster environmental resilience and resistance, and
- Avoid the "mis-adaptation" of actions which, over the long term, would prove, at best, to be of little relevance and, at worst, harmful.
The merit of this plan is therefore to share relevant examples so as to learn from experience and determine future priorities along the lines of:
- Limiting the rise in water temperatures
- Educating and training all water users to turn them into informed stakeholders
- Expediting the delivery of public policies
- Exploring alternatives for managing the resource (not least in floodplains)
- Taking the protection and restoration of aquatic environments into account in economic terms
Nourishing Loire, recreational Loire: the possibilities for projects
The second half of the morning then shined the spotlight on the "Habiter l'eau" lab's various projects on the theme "Nourishing Loire, recreational Loire: the possibilities for projects".
- The workshop in Olivet (Loiret) with Paris-la-Villette School of Architecture (ENSA), in partnership with Établissement Public Loire and Mission Val de Loire, delved into the fate of river landscapes in the Loiret. The students pursued lines of inquiry on the quantity of water available and its quality, especially in the wake of the issues raised during the "Assises du Loiret" convention.
- The workshop at Montlouis-sur-Loire (Indre-et-Loire) with the 2nd year Master's course Environment, Territory & Landscape of Tours University, in partnership with the Tours Urban Planning Agency, studied the impact of climate change on the fate of wine-growing landscapes. The students brought to light the effects of perceptible climate change in the area of study, particularly a rise in temperature which is shifting the phenological cycle of vines.
- The workshop in Vouvray (Indre-et-Loire) with Agrocampus Ouest, in partnership with the Tours Urban Planning Agency, broached the requalification of the village's façade overlooking the Loire, at the Loire-Cisse confluence. With a view to reviving the link between Vouvray and the Loire, the students discussed the cause of the town's current appearance and its past and present relationship with the river.
- The workshop in Langeais (Indre-et-Loire) with the Architect-Urban Planner DSA (advanced diploma) from Marne-la-Vallée ENSA, in partnership with the Ministry for the Ecological Transition – PUCA, was entitled “The wreck, the river and the territory, a landscape interpretation site for reinventing the link between Langeais and the Loire”. The students worked on reconnecting Langeais town centre to the nearby Loire riverbanks, to reveal the river landscape and its history from the clues left by the wreck.
- The workshop on the island of Chalonnes-sur-Loire (Maine-et-Loire) with Nantes ENSA and Agrocampus-Ouest, in partnership with the Angers Urban Planning Agency, compared different perspectives on the themes “Nourishing Loire” and “Recreational Loire”. On the latter notion, the students questioned residents, users and farmers among other stakeholders about the “culture of water” to throw into focus into importance. Thanks to this surveying work, it was possible to define a “master plan” grounded in the experience of the stakeholders with the water. On the former notion, and building on the conclusions of the previous workshop, a 2nd group of students unpicked the value of soil, laying bare the agricultural history of this region and probing current practices. Four project sites are reviving historical production methods, some of which are given a modern twist, by factoring in climate change.
- Last but not least, the workshop in Chalonnes-sur-Loire (Maine-et-Loire) with Nantes ENSA, in partnership with the Angers Urban Planning Agency, was entitled “A thousand places, urbanity in the countryside”. The students examined the possible development of the town of Chalonnes-sur-Loire, laying down guidelines for action in the region, such as aligning uses made of the hilltop with the identity of the Loire, or enhancing the town/Loire relationship by fitting out viewpoints.
These workshops and thought processes will be summed up in a project compendium and exhibition, which will be presented during the Loire Valley Rendezvous on 28 November 2018.
How can climate change and its impacts on the river landscape be factored into projects and what they can teach us?
At the beginning of the afternoon, Bruno Marmiroli, Head of the Loir-et-Cher Loire Council of Architecture, Urban Planning and the Environment (CAUE), reported back on the "Nature and Landscape” biennial through two examples:
- The Matra neighbourhood of Romorantin-Lanthenay (2006-2016): in Romorantin, architect Éric Daniel-Lacombe and landscaper Bernard Lassus oversaw a vast operation to develop a neighbourhood located in a floodplain. During the high water levels of June 2016, this district was protected from the River Sauldre when it broke its banks and flooded much of the town centre.
- Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande ecological park (2008-2015): nestling in the Blosne valley near Rennes, this 40-hectare territory has become the Saint-Jacques ecological park thanks to the wealth of its wetlands and past agricultural practices. Water there is a resource, it shapes the lie of the land and asserts its presence at all scales.
In the second part of the afternoon, a workshop provided opportunity for a debate on practitioners’, teachers’ and students’ expectations and experiences with a view to outlining an ecological, heritage and landscape project engineering framework. The key points to come out of this workshop were:
- A culture of acceptance, of reconciliation so as to tailor our uses to the reality of climate change by collecting knowledge from yesterday and today;
- Projects designed to be adaptable over time allow for anticipation, and result in reversible facilities, adjustable uses and short- and long-term programmes grounded in a land reserve strategy;
- The pooling of knowledge and responses developed by local areas that are feeling the effects of climate change will form the basis of an “international living library”;
- The transfer of the GEMAPI competence is encouraging elected representatives and institutions to become more aware of environmental concerns.