Experience the forefront of urban transformation as Va jouer dehors! unveils its second annual Festival de la Ville in Marseille, a visionary gathering dedicated to the renewal and repair of cities worldwide.
Va jouer dehors! (Go play outside!), a non-profit organization founded in 2019 by architect Matthieu Poitevin in response to the tragic 2018 building collapses on Rue d’Aubagne, is gearing up for its second annual Festival de la Ville: Extrem’City. This unique event, which is set to take place from October 19th to 21st in the vibrant city of Marseille, France, is a testament to the urgent need to reimagine not only Marseille but cities worldwide in the face of pressing global challenges: climate change, social issues, and population growth.
“Originally, I founded the association in order to have students present ideas on how to renovate the neighborhood [in which the buildings collapsed]. It naturally evolved into a think-tank in order to take time to reflect on and make propositions for the city of tomorrow; this, we transformed into the Festival de la Ville,” Matthieu Poitevin said during the press conference on September 7, 2023, at Théâtre des Bernardines.
Va jouer dehors! serves as both an event organizer and a platform for generating innovative ideas. The association brings together diverse stakeholders in the field of urban planning, including architects, urbanists, policymakers, developers, collectives, writers, chefs, artists, philosophers, journalists, and citizens, with the goal of constructing a more equitable, participatory, and joyous urban environment.
From a Deconfinement Feast to a Global Gathering of Minds
Following their previous successes, including a post-lockdown feast and the creation of the world’s largest architecture gathering for a day, Va jouer dehors! has organized a three-day festival: “Festival de la Ville”. The goal is to facilitate exchange, engagement, and exploration, centered around the universal theme of the city.
Multi-disciplinary professionals from across the globe will come together to discuss and envision the future of cities. The participants of the festival will discuss and or exhibit their vision of a city that embraces the imperatives of climate change, fosters connections and shared spaces, and offers habitable conditions for all species on Earth.
Unlike the traditional divide between generations, the festival brings together people from all walks of life because solutions can only be found through collective engagement, dreaming, and action. The festival aims to expand the perspectives of those entrenched in their views and those who might be unaware of the broader world. It underscores the importance of unity over individualism, emphasizing the need to confront global challenges collectively.
A prime example of this can be found in the festival’s Le Citta’s Banquet designed by chef Emmanuel Perrodin who offers unique treats for tasting during the conference. Invited speakers, some thirty people among 150 guests, have two minutes to declaim on the specified theme. This year, they will discuss common problems in European port cities.
“For the Banquet, we’re bringing together twin cities with ports that have the same problems as ours [in Marseille] but with different paradigms. The invited speakers are going to tell real, concrete, extraordinary stories that take place in Glasgow, Odessa, Genoa, and so on. The Banquet will take place in J0, supported by the Port of Marseille Fos. It’s a first that a cultural event of this scale can find a small foothold in the port, and it’s also important for us to ensure that the port and the city can finally find common ground.”
It’s the only event of the festival not open to the public but whose contents will be widely distributed after the festival in issue 3 of Euphorique Architecture. Marseille’s twin cities will be in the spotlight. This year, the festival will be held at the Grand Port Maritime de Marseille. All the events on the program will take place at this unique venue. All the port cities will be linked to the Port of Marseille, and some of them will be honored at the banquet.
The Age of Profit-Driven Architecture is Over
Va jouer dehors! heralds a new era in architecture, where profit-driven and ego-centric design philosophies are no longer viable, marking a crucial response to our rapidly evolving world. This shift addresses longstanding issues, where architecture often prioritized profit and individual recognition, neglecting societal and environmental well-being. This outdated approach produced structures ill-suited to communities and sustainability, favoring short-term gains over long-term resilience and equity.
Furthermore, this profit-centric mindset bred cynicism within the architectural community, creating a disconnect between architects and the communities they serve. In a time of heightened environmental awareness, social justice movements, and the urgent need for sustainable solutions, this cynicism obstructs progress. The Festival de la Ville serves as a beacon of hope, urging architects, urban planners, and stakeholders to embrace a new paradigm that values communities, the planet, and future generations over financial gain and personal acclaim.
A Glimpse into the Past: Va jouer dehors in 2021
In May 2021, Va jouer dehors! gathered the world’s largest architecture agency for a day, featuring 11 projects with the goal of repairing the city. The concept of repairing the city involves recognizing past humiliations, addressing oversights, and seeking to heal wounds and honor those who have been disrespected. Moreover, repair entails taking responsibility for the environment and acknowledging the importance of water, landscapes, and biodiversity. Ultimately, repairing the city is synonymous with breathing new life into urban environments. It emphasizes the importance of clean air, collective respiration, and interconnectedness as we navigate ecological, political, and social challenges.
The one-day gathering led to the first edition of the three-day Festival de la Ville the following year. Va jouer dehors! launched the Festival de la Ville with the support of public and private partners in 2022. The first edition, the Festival de la Ville Sauvage, “invited the world” to Marseille with personalities such as architects, urban planners, artists, politicians, sociologists, students, and residents.
As we prepare for the upcoming Festival de la Ville in Marseille, Va jouer dehors! reminds us that the journey to urban renewal and rejuvenation is an ongoing one, requiring dedication, imagination, and a shared commitment to making cities more livable, resilient, and sustainable. The festival serves as a beacon of hope and a testament to the transformative power of collective action in the face of global challenges.