◀︎  Exhibitions

Terres de Paris

from the matter to the material

Exhibition presented from Ocotober 13 to January 8, 2017 Guest curators : 
Paul-Emmanuel Loiret,  architect, university lecturer and researcher, Labex AE&CC / CRAterre - ENSAG
Serge Joly, architect, university lecturer and researcher, LAB. La fabrique collective - ESA

from the matter to the material

Each year, over twenty million tons of soil are removed in the greater Paris area, to which can be added some forty million tons that will be excavated through 2030 to make room for an upcoming network of subway trains. This soil is particularly bulky and generates pollution when moved around, is complex to treat and sometimes toxic. Generally left out in the open, it is an issue of great concern. “Terres de Paris” analyzes the soil excavation process, reports on the state of knowledge of our subsoil and reveals a heretofore unexplored potential to imagine a new, more virtuous cycle, no longer ranging from soil to demolition debris, but instead from matter to materials. The exploration/exhibit presents the various techniques for building with the soil from the greater Paris area, including the first series of extruded bricks made of Parisian area clay.  

When the constraints of soil waste encounter the challenges of construction, innovative concepts take shape. The never-ending development of knowledge and techniques by earth builders, in addition to the knowledge amassed on the composition of Parisian area subsoil, stemming in particular from the 5000 sections bored to accommodate the transportation infrastructures, provide the opportunity to envision another future for excavated soil. Architects Paul-Emmanuel Loiret and Serge Joly carried out this experiment, from the extraction to the workability tests, in conjunction with amàco, a center of excellence on material sciences for sustainable construction, and CRAterre, a global reference in the area of earth architecture. 

Observing and processing earth samples taken from metropolitan construction sites, discovering the composition and diversity of soils or granulates in the greater Paris region, analyzing the characteristics conducive to potential construction materials, using prototypes to discover the various techniques for earth construction: rammed earth, adobe, mudbricks, poured earth…  The exploration/exhibit offers visitors the unique opportunity to experience an ongoing construction process, that of a “little-known material, mistakenly looked down upon, a virtuous material that can be used to build but that above all affords the possibility of embodying a genuinely sustainable relationship with the world”.

As regards the scientific approach, a second, more empirical experiment was carried out with the Allonne brickworks, located less than 70 km from Paris. This experiment involved producing, for the first time, extruded bricks from unusable Paris area clay aggregates. From matter to material, nearly 8000 bricks were created from 15 m3 of clay soil. Within a span of a few weeks, thanks to the support provided by storage and reprocessing specialists such as ECT (an inert material management and storage platform) in addition to the recycling centers Eurovia-SPL and Yprema, soil was removed from earthworks and construction sites, as the opportunities arose, then tested. Both the swiftness with which the experiment was carried out and the quality of the results are a testament to the tremendous diversity and potential of the Paris area subsoil in the area of construction.

Construction experiments using clay soil without additional stabilizers (which would make the clay too stiff), demonstrate, throughout the world, the potential for using this material in all types of construction projects. Museums, offices, schools and factories: each experiment further enhances the state of knowledge and the sectors of the stakeholders concerned. The underground expansion in the Paris metropolitan area offers a rare opportunity to utilize a new material. The exploration/exhibit “Terres de Paris” allows us to consider the natural earth to be the cornerstone in building the city.

Exhibition curators

Under the supervision of Joly&Loiret architecture agency
Paul-Emmanuel Loiret, architect, university lecturer and researcher, Labex AE&CC / CRAterre - ENSAG
Serge Joly, architect, university lecturer and researcher, LAB. La fabrique collective - ESA

Romain Anger, CRAterre - ENSAG / Amàco - Grands Ateliers
Lionel Ronsoux, Amàco - Grands Ateliers
Hugo Gasnier,  doctoral searcher, Labex AE&CC / CRAterre -ENSAG

Along with
Patrick Ribet, Alba Rivero, CRAterre - ENSAG/ Amàco
Mathilde Béguin, Atelier Alba
Alban Pinel, Mateis - INSA de Lyon

Pierre Vanni
Prises de vue 

Editorial board
Julie Houis