Les Lamaneurs

Prototypes made by Atelier du Marais & Armtop from Saint-Nazaire
Acacia wood, steel, paint.

Situated by the Saint-Nazaire port, six little docking houses made in 50’s architecture, are hosting the Lamaneurs. They are professional seamen on land that guide the ships going in and out of the harbour and fasten them safely at quay. A lamaneur is guarding and monitoring the harbour, empathically looking after any vessel passing through. Day and night. Saint-Nazaire is a workers city. Its centre is a place you go through or jump into to buy something on your way home, without really linger or take part in a social urban life. We wished to offer spaces for the Nazariens to indulge in a well deserved break.

Replanted identity

Identity is, literally, what makes us identical to others. It is essential for forming a community, be it religious, national, local, sexual, racial or artistic. What makes an identity interesting is that it is in fact, a combination of multiple identities that are unique to each one of us and resembles a tool box. Everyone searches in their own, to find the identity that is useful at a given moment. It allows us to find a similarity with other people and create a connection, an identified community, even if it is a superficial and momentary one. Some can use their identity to exclude, but the traveler know it is more useful to use the identity that includes. Socialising with unknown people is about finding the « identity zone » in which we can communicate.

Our investigative design program Ideal Lab have taken on the theme identity, “replanted identity”, in the particular context of the Micropolis. Since most places are inhabited by indigenous and migrant populations, destined to stay there, an inclusive local identity emerge as important to create a happy and prosperous local community. The identity issue has become very relevant as the traditional borders disappear. Having a certain nationality as once only identity does not suffice anymore. Humans are more and more connected to each other, above geographical and language borders, and choosing the right identity at the right moment is the best way to amplify these connexions. We stay less often where we were born or where our ancestors came from. Humanity is migrating to the cities, and its populations, better educated than ever before, can choose where and how they want to live. Helping humans to generate identities which allow them to connect easily to others is not a luxury anymore, but a common need.

Everyone is a mix of endogenous and exogenous identities. Our endogenous identity is a result of how our body is connected, how we perceive data from the world that surrounds us and how we deal with it. Everyone is, in this aspect, quite unique, more or less sensitive to certain stimuli. Our exogenous identities are the result of our environment: the culture we grew up in, the educations we received, but also the friends we have chosen, the positive and negative experiences that marked us, the travels we made and the influences we have had. This mix of identities is the way we define ourselves and a way to connect ourselves to others. We can feel European because we feel connected to the other inhabitants of the continent. We can feel we belong to a place where we were not born, our mere presence there making us feel linked to its other inhabitants.

A successful local identity is a meeting point of the best in us. Where of the physical peculiarities of its territory meets the history of the place and the people who live there, while still making space for those who haven’t moved there yet, those who are just passing by, and those who would like to settle for good. The success of a local identity is a daily collective practice, an object of desire, something unique and simple, open enough to include most people, but with enough restrictive definition not to lose its strength. The search for identity is the quest for what unites people, what bring them together, through what is identical to all. We have invited French and Norwegian creative Agents to immerse themselves in three unique places - Florø and Saint Nazaire, and Tøyen in Oslo. All are distinctive, gorgeous and in transformation, with similarities and differences. These Agents collectively and individually studied and observed these Micropolises to project a new version of the local identity in artworks and objects, all vectors of a “replanted identity”.

The Nazairien(ne)s

Following our immersive process, we encounter the Saint-Nazaire citizens and stakeholders in the middle of the city centre for several weeks, to enhance an empathic dialog and collect their stories related to their identity and their relations with their city. During the second world war, they suffered a lot by the nearly total destruction of the city; the harbour is still hosting the ghost of this era within the massive submarine concrete base, still being there as the cost of deconstructing it is as enormous as its foundations. Some of our collected insights brought us to speculate that after the war, the city decided to relocate the city centre away from its original place, the harbour, to turn back to its painful memories and build a future. The fact is now that the city in its core still belongs to the harbour. And the rebuilt city centre is nameless, surrounded by neighbourhoods having a narrative and a name: the city centre still does not, consequence of a post war vision, which did not connected with the essence of the place: the ocean. To operate a new collective pride and memory, we decided to focus on their identity, their meaning in life. And nothing will be more powerful than caring about the guardians angels of the harbour: the loose men, or the Lamaneurs in French.

Belonging to Saint-Nazaire

Belonging is a result of the two previous scenarios. Belonging is a feeling based on the collective identity, shared rituals and a collective imagination. The common identity shows what people really share, the rituals which make everyone feel physically and emotionally connected. The collective imagination is filled with events, artistic expressions, and traditions which have touched everyone. Ideal Lab’s Agents were fascinated by the significance of manual traditions in both cities - creating, fixing, making, restoring - and their absence in the public space. Both cities have a typical architecture (wood for Florø, post-war rational planning for Saint-Nazaire) which is sometimes not well taken care of nor embraced. The collective transformation process, through work and the reclaiming of public space, are the main themes of this scenario. The pass-stop use of the city for practicalities, gave us the idea to design seats that invite the busy habitants to slow down, enjoy and take a break. Inspired by the locksman, who guides the boats into and out of the port, the urban seats “Lamaneur” take their shape from the architecture of the 50’s locks-houses.

Les Lamaneurs

We created the Lamaneurs, a series of urban furnitures that invite the habitants to slow down and enjoy their city. Like the lamaneur guiding the ship, these furnitures are taking care of people. The shapes are taken from the docking houses that have a rounded front to provide a wide angle visibility and the metal and wood materials where selected from the ship building artisan industries we collaborated with. Four versions of Lamaneurs each with its own attitude, has been created inspired by their rituals: Lunch break, Coffee break, Long watch and Power nap.
Since 2018, Les Lamaneurs are part of the permanent collection of Sogn og Fjordane Contemporary Art fund.

Context

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