“Through the Looking-Glass” — Thinking and building periurban areas from a rural standpoint.

A PUCA (Plan Urbanisme Construction Architecture) initiative (French urban planning ministry section)

When urban centers achieve to become sustainable places, it is too often realized by importing sustainability at the expense of their periurban hinterland. This program postulates that whether periurbanization is not sustainable is not due to the phenomenon by itself but to the circumstances in which it is designed: that is to say as a by-product of the urban centers dynamics. In contrast to this urban-centered perspective, Through the Looking Glass program considers the periurban areas as the evolution of former rural areas and activities (agriculture, woodlands or natural areas). This perspective inversion enables looking differently at spatial and temporal practices of the inhabitants in periurban areas and the way they change with the urbanization process, with two assumptions:

  • Periurbanization can be sustainable if it takes into account and relies on place-based anteriors usages and customs that are marked in the landscape
  • A sustainable periurbanization induces specific forms of sociability and spatial organization.

This program addresses the study sites as complex adaptive HES (Human Environment Systems). Through a comparative approach, considering cases in Canada, the UK and Germany together with Champagne-Ardenne cities, Through the Looking Glass aims at building a grid of action defining the modalities of the transition to sustainability in periurban areas and its implication for urban design.

Started in 2012

Contact :