Learning from La Vacherie, Blanquefort

  • Year 2011
  • Architects Kinya Maruyama, Christophe Hutin
  • Location Blanquefort, France

The dairy farm project in Blanquefort was a perpetual beginning. We always wanted to start things without ever finishing them. The process of an architectural project begins with an idea and then all the energy is put into making the building look like the idea. In contrast to this approach, we wanted to allow freedom, improvisation, and life to animate this project. The idea was to turn the agricultural building into a venue for learning in an open environment, offering an experience contrary to the situations of confinement in many institutions.
At the outset, the idea was to reinstall a stockbreeder, welcome a young audience for short stays, and create a venue for artistic activities. This combination was to decompartmentalize themes, practices, and uses.
During the project studies, we set up events and called upon socio-cultural actors. Even before the work was done, the idea was to inhabit the place, bring it to life, and test its operating mode. We organized a workshop with Kynia Maruyama and worked with the town social center and the Fondation d’Auteuil. We also organized a workshop at the Abadie Center, which cares for young teenagers who are anorexic or suicidal. They built birdhouses and installed them as part of the workshop. In this way, we were able to test several things that could be considered as “failed” because they did not lead to anything demonstrative architecturally, but they enabled us to start the process of achieving the project’s objectives. The workshops allowed us to reflect on what to do and how to do it, test our initial ambition, confront various audiences, and answer the question of what architecture can contribute to this kind of project.