Champs-Contrechamps

 

Lens, Pas-de-Calais

Since the end of the 60's, the way according to which contemporary cities have developed has been  part of a spreading drive , synonymous with a growing uniformity of dwelling places.

The emergence of these new housing estates or neighbourhoods has been accompanied by the appearance of new industrial estates or business parks featuring a dedicated architecture. These new buildings do have something in common : their location. While eating away at rural spaces, they spring up on the periphery of cities making up a group of urban forms, re-arranged landscapes, organisational methods, planning principles and ways of life. l

For a part of the population, choosing to live in these new areas on the fringes of large cities has largely to do with transportation, work, housing, income,or life style. Living in a urban area inevitably means being able to escape it. This is also true of people living in rural areas. For city dwellers, going to « the country » means removing oneself, escaping the constraints of the city life, going back to nature and relaxing. For rural people, going « to the city » means enjoying the culture and public facilities  or going shopping.

My work is exploring the limits, the frontier between urban and rural areas through the communications channels running across them. Actually, they are informal paths that have not been designed by town-planners but shaped  instead by the inhabitants themselves. These paths are randomly walked by the locals and their existence mostly depends on the human interactions established by the inhabitants of a same territory.

The creation of these paths that were not planned by the town-planning authorities are part and parcel of urban revitalization and renewal. These territories bordered by these channels put together the notions of social space and living space. These daily routes that often consist of short-cuts have created geographical spaces which also produce as Michel de Certeau puts it, a « symbolical and anthropological language of space » that leads to to the definition of what a territory and territoriality are.

Through these photographs of Nord-Pas-de-Calais towns, I wished to map again the frontier of these mobilities, the porous walls seperating rural and urban spaces as well as define the buffer zone that enables us to move from one to the other