APIC Design : new use 2020

How defining new use for the factory chimneys represents an opportunity for the inhabitants to regain their industrial heritage ?


Mission APIC Design : new use
Lille World Design Capital 2020
Client : association Le Non Lieu
Budget : 9000€
Schedule : February-November 2020


For the Lille World Design Capital 2020 and the Beffrois du travail, the Le Non-Lieu association launched a call for candidates towards multidisciplinary groups, to set up the Ateliers Patrimoine Industriel Citoyens et Design "APIC Design : nouveaux usages" (Industrial Citizens and Design Patrimony Workshops “APIC Design : new use”. The project aims to study four factory chimneys spread across the cities of Roubaix and Tourcoing in the Lille area. Initially planned for the first semester of 2020, this mission, in a sanitary crisis context, was extended to the end of the year.

During the XXth century, the landscapes of the North Department have been shaped around flourishing industries, thus developing a red brick urban fabric, composed of factories, workers housing estates and foremen houses. The life in the workers housing estates followed the pace of the factories. Nevertheless, the current social issues faced by some neighborhoods of Roubaix and Tourcoing since the factories closed down, is making the former attachment to the industrial buildings towards a shape of disinterest.

Besides the images of two neighborhoods marked by the closing down of their factories, and now subject to urban metamorphoses.

Architectural heritage

Around the times of industrial prosperity, the chimneys represented the beating heart of the Lille industrial area. Currently shut down, the prosperity no longer exists and their fallen silhouettes echo the social struggles that have to frequently taken place at their feet. The industrial prosperity of the Lille region stem from textile production or the last century has left an architectural heritage around which the cities grew. Now detached from its primary function, what role can this new patrimony play in contemporary urbanism ?

Divided in four phases, our process invites the inhabitants and actors of the territory to lean as much on their feelings (in terms of emotions, lived experiences, personal tastes) as on their imaginary (whimsical scenarios, utopia) or on hard facts related to project management ( finance, schedule, legislation…). Between “useless vestige of the past” or “tall lady who watches over the neighborhood”, we aim to understand with the inhabitants the role they can play in ... How, in these new landscapes, the chimneys can embody an opportunity in which the inhabitants have a real role to play ?


Four months of participative workshops with the publics and socio-cultural structures from both neighborhoods, with two lockdowns in the middle. The two projects offer devices transforming the chimneys into capable objects by regiving them a role of machines in their neighborhoods.

Thus, the chimney as the centerpiece of the factories yesterday, patrimony object today, becomes a urban multifunctional tool tomorrow.

If they remain landmark setters in the landscape, these contemporary machines are no longer linked to the textile economy, but to a need to live the public space.
Indeed, if these two objects take advantage of the verticality of the chimney to invent their new mechanism, they are all associated with an unfolding in the space that crystallizes their anchoring in specific contexts.

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