Conceived as a city for the children, with colourful curved buildings, La Grande Borne soon experienced its decay since the 1980s and is today most widely known for riots, intensifying since 2005 and regularly reaching the news. Unemployment spreads as employers avoid residents with the wrong address and the intensifying drug deals have taken a firm hold of the estate. In a form of police urbanism, the local forces have joined housing council meetings and successfully lobbied for the destruction of certain buildings for an aeration of the estate, effectively leveraging for an easier access in raids. A way of dealing with La Grande Borne is to achieve a form of re-wiring of the estate.
Neglected for the longest time by policy and politics, the estate is in dire need of reprogramming to fight isolation and deal with the particularities of the estate. To add to the layer of outside activities by expanding athletic functions, playground and garden formats, which are placed to a logic of centering and de-centering. To expand the apartments, adhering to the prefab construction of the estate, exterior modules are added and can be furnished as full rooms, winter gardens, balconies and serve as semi-public circulation, with full-sized outdoor areas on the private outer side, and emergency access through smaller ones on the inside. 12,000 residents ask for basic services which should be integrated into the estate directly, a school addition and a new city hall have taken place in emptied buildings, closing the gap between administration and citizens. Learning from the staircase retail of the drug dealers, newly inserted programme acts on the in-between. The programs are integrated into buildings, forming a mini-passage, taking part in the estate’s circulation. Certain injections contain in them a form of indeterminacy and after-life.
The tiles created are scrapable to be taken apart. The extensions could be detached and overall, the drug sales are not actively suppressed but rather modified in their progression, as the staircases are de-trapped and turned to the outside. La Grande Borne will remain tackling challenges but these injections form the beginning of an evolvement of its protocols, as much as they can be anticipated, that updates its scheme to the urbanity it has always deserved.