Collectif Etc
An assortment of tools
Strasbourg, FR

Founded in Strasbourg city in 2009, Collectif Etc was formed freshly out of architecture school, aiming to gather desires toward civic dynamics of public space’s issues. Using different resources and skills, Collectif Etc wishes to offer various supports for experimentation in architecture and urban design. Collectif Etc is a non-profit organisation, now based in Marseille, France, since 2014.

 

Late night discussions

We all met at architecture school back in 2008. But we had the feeling that what was taught was incomplete and that we were missing certain political and grounded experiences. Later, we all worked in traditional offices, saved some money and started a one-year bicycle trip around France. That education off the beaten path was our way to experience various situations and meet many people and structures who turned architecture into a political subject, a way to question our top-down usual processes of city making. We shared a daily life, slept next to each other, shared many discussions about our utopias at night and had some real building workshops during the day.

 

Creating an assortment of tools

We are not experts. We try, learn, and fail, all the time. We adopt various roles: one day we're welding a structure at our workshop in Marseille, the other we are editing a fanzine, screen-printing a poster in northern France, cutting wood in Italy, having a shared meal with volunteers in a rural area. We go from setting up projects with partners to deal with the very basic needs in workshops, like preparing meals and waste management. We have really long but thrilling drives across France and sometimes Europe; we're exchanging in our truck loaded of tools what worked and what didn't on the projects and dream of possible futures we hope for ourselves and for the society in general.

 

An adventurous daily routine

We're definitely really far away from routine! We're setting up projects, designing and building them. And projects are everywhere in France and even Europe.That leads us from computer work to workshop places, from conferences to building places here and there. No week is similar. Thus we're sharing daily life in workshops, living together and then getting back to Marseille where we have our office and our workshop, and a more intimate way of life ! We've moved from nomadic life to settled places in Marseille and now we're thinking of buying together an abandoned building in a rural area.

 

Forsaking hierarchy

We have a couch, a stove, a generous kitchen, green plants and personal staff. We have opened our office to friends working in various fields like graphic design. It's rather like a comfortable home where we feel at ease. We alternately cook for each other in duo, and have some big shared meals for lunch. Our office is a tool for the neighborhood; we lend it to local associations, we organise free sewing lessons, screen-printing sessions, open cine-club, and parties. It's a living place. We have no hierarchy. Rather, we spend a lot of time exchanging and sharing our questions or doubts to be sure that everyone in the group is ok with our choices.

 

Maintaining economic stability

We're always learning and questioning our values, our methods, our projects. We're not working with specific mottos or manifestos; we build a practice step by step, with tangible projects more than words and discourses. We would rather go with a mix of adventure and re-invention of our practice; a sort of permanent "reinventure"! We are fighting for that, sometimes even working for free in situations we believe in although it might not have sufficient means. We don't want to get bored and prefer to stay long-lasting beginners, almost on the same level as many of the volunteers we organise our workshops with. The reality behind that is that it is really hard to find economic stability when you want to keep your values and keep learning.

 

Towards a social architecture

We thought that public authorities would care more about democratic and ecological issues in city planning, especially by building strong barriers to restrict private interests and thus opening up a new ethical space for architecture. But it turned out that interesting architectural initiatives and projects are more often led by civic society than our corrupted and cowardly politicians! We hope that in the times to come, we can meet those motivated citizens who want to fight against contemporary abuses and build convincing answers on democratic, ecological architectural issues. We have to invent new places and territorial synergies for the people to gather, organise themselves and support sustainable ways of life.

Collectif Etc Colombelles Halle SMN Cite de chantier final 6

DSC03029

ETC PDP Chantier S1B BD 141

ETC CAEN chantier 6

ETC PDP Chantier S1B BD1

ETC PDP Chantier S2BD 20

ETC PDP Chantier S2BD 25

Photography Courtesy of Collectif Etc






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