The pavilion, a “French passion”, needs to reinvent itself to keep from disappearing

Considered “ugly” by some, the pavilion is favored by the French. But when faced with the objectives of zero artificialization of soil and rising construction costs, it is questioned.

A row of houses, each in the middle of a garden, a road ending in a dead end, all bordering a town, bordering fields. This, in one sentence, describes the French suburban model set in the 1970s. Accused of returning to France “ugly” through the press Delirama In 2010, to expropriate agricultural land, Encourage home loan And as inconsistent with ecological change, this model is increasingly being questioned.

“End Single Family”In 2021 the then Minister of Housing, Emmanuel Varcone, launched, recalled Le Figaro. While the private home is still seen as an ideal by the majority of French people, the words caused controversy. But a future zero-net artificialization law, which would theoretically prevent homesteads from being built on agricultural or natural land, undermines these aspirations. And to sign at the end of the pavilion, this “French Passion” In the words of sociologists Herve Marchel and Jean-Marc Steph.

An American inspiration

Let’s rewind. We’re in the mid-1970s. After the end of World War II, the authorities decided to shift gears after building a strong collective housing. “The so-called suburban model is a political and economic construct, set up especially after the election of Valéry Guiscard d’Estaing in 1977, and which promises housing for all for home ownership”Léonel Rouge, a lecturer at the University of Toulouse 2 and an expert in the subject, explains.

Very quickly, estates flourished throughout France, almost always on the outskirts of cities. Beyond workplaces, city centers or schools, these estates are used as hostels, and the car is king there. France “I chose to be inspired by the American model.”, emphasizes Lucille Mettel, geographer and research and project manager at the Paris Regional Institute. Houses are built there “In the middle of the garden”, unlike in other countries such as the United Kingdom or Germany where houses are often terraced. The key is the promise of a safe environment where you can thrive by tinkering or gardening out of sight of your neighbors.

This model is driven by local land-use planning policies, but also by national mechanisms such as zero-interest loans since the 1990s, allowing the middle and working class access to property. Almost 62% of French households own their main residence in 2020, compared to 44% in Germany. OECD. In these residences, the house is queen: according to the latest statistics Ministry of Environmental Change79% of owner households live in one house.

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“Urban World Crushing Rural Areas”

Despite its success, the pavilion has been the target of regular criticism, firstly for the fantasy it conveys, Delirama remove “Ugly France”. A target to be shot down? These long streets are lined with identical houses, located at the entrance of a city and close to the commercial area. “Symbol of an urban world in which suburbs sweep away the countryside”, as summarized by Herve Marchel, professor of sociology at the University of Burgundy. A strong contrast to a type of habitat is thought to bring its inhabitants closer to nature.

Beyond the aesthetic aspect, the suburban model is mainly criticized for its impact on the environment. “This development of separate zones – residential, commercial and commercial – is problematic.”, explains Christine Leconte, president of the Order of Architects. This is “An urban area completely focused on the car” Besides forcing residents to travel miles to get to work “Deprives children of autonomy”she adds.

“The Frustrated Lodger”

Despite these criticisms, the appeal of single-family homes remains strong. “The desire for home is not weakened, it is reactivated by barriers and the scale of telecommunications”, emphasizes Lucille Mettel. Thus, an Ifop poll suggests that 84% of those questioned would prefer to live in this type of accommodation. The French Federation of Private Home Builders carried out the report in March Agency Journal.

If all French people, or nearly all, have the same dream, they don’t all live the same way. “Not all homes are created equalLionel Rouge insists. We see the elite investing in suburbs built in the 1970s, which are now well integrated into the urban environment. This is “The Enchanted Pavilion”As Hervé Marchal calls it, it has it all: it is connected to the city, public transport and services.

Instead, the working classes are increasingly struggling to afford affordable housing. “Those who moved to the suburbs are now forced to move further”Lionel Rouge was alarmed by the houses “Settle 70 km from Toulouse to access a house”. “This disgruntled suburb often goes hand in hand with the resentment of its citizens.”The researcher summarizes.

“Above all, they have a sense of being forgotten. The plaster facades, the position of the windows are all reminders of people being less comfortable.”

Herve Marchel, Professor of Sociology at the University of Burgundy

At franceinfo

This sense of exclusion, “One of the engines behind the fury of the ‘yellow vests'”, Christine Leconte recalled that the war in Ukraine could worsen with the increase in energy prices. Especially in 2022, as new construction has slowed sharply, reports suggest the world. Questionable is the increase in construction costs, at 8.8% in a year Insee, As well as rising interest rates hampering access to real estate loans.

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Added to these short-term difficulties is a long-term problem: environmental change. The pavilion and its almost mandatory car are incompatible with the fight against global warming. The objective of zero net artificialization by 2050, included in the climate law, could call into question the entire French urban development model. The government wants to adopt a new text to protect biodiversity and curb urban development by encouraging construction on wasteland or vacant lots in villages. The future legislation, the moment the Senate votes, worries small-town mayors. People who fear that houses are no longer attractive. Logic underlines Herve Marchel, “Because for a long time, the image of a good mayor was that of an elected official who constantly attracted new people.”.

Thicken, yes, but how?

What is the sign of the end of the pavilion? “no”Lionel Rouge answers, for whom we help “Toward a Renewal of the Suburban Model” Rather his death. Residential areas need to evolve to renew themselves. “One of the key factors is the density of urban areasChristine Leconte insists. We need to worry about integrating these areas into the urban fabric, bringing people closer to public services and getting out of all cars. A “The Key to Ecological Change” Diversify the use of residential areas and convert them into living spaces.

Know how to thicken. Lucille Metatal differentiates “hard density”, It replaces suburbs with blocks of buildings, especially in small and medium crowns in Ile-de-France, as stated. the worldof “soft density” : “It’s the segmentation of parcels or the filling of empty teeth.” For example, a couple selling part of their garden to renovate a house they bought in the 1970s.

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Re-enchanting suburbia will in no way be done without its inhabitants. “We have no other solution but to work with the people who live there.”Christine Leconte warns. “We should not demonize residential areas but put urban thinking into themAdds Lionel Rouge. We have to think of a way to regulate and urbanize them democratically. From the city to the countryside, people want it, and we have to let them find it.”

Emergent aspirations

France can take inspiration from some of its European neighbors “Our country is a champion of urban sprawl [l’implantation d’édifices dispersés dans un paysage naturel], exclaims Herve Marchel. The analyst advises to look towards “The United Kingdom, where semi-detached houses are highly developed and integrated into cities”. Lucille Mettatel calls on legislators to ask a question about habitat sharing: “We can see that in Germany, where generations often coexist.”

If France has yet to revolutionize its habitat, some desire seems to be brewing, according to observers and experts in the field. Young couples may not have the same aspirations as their parents. “I amSpace in his garden is always important, but it doesn’t have to be too big. After all, the desire to have a house with four sides is not strong today, and families do not want to be too far from the city center.”Lionel Rouge insists.

Is this a sign that ecological discourse is taking over? “The reduction of the size of houses and gardens is especially connected with the question of saving and comfort, but somewhere it penetrates”, thinks Christine LeConte. It is the legislator who succeeds in getting the French to change their aspirations and respond to the contradictions that push families. “I want to live close to nature, yet integrated into the urban fabric”Hervé Marchal in a nutshell.

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