2019 EPFL doctorate Award - Finalist – Sonia Curnier
Special distinction from the selection committee to Sonia Curnier for her thesis “Espace public comme objet per se? Une analyse critique de la conception contemporaine”
EPFL thesis n°8495 (2018)
Thesis director: Prof. B. Marchand
The recognition during the second half of the 20th century of the essential role played by public spaces in the definition of qualitative urban life has led to a reconsideration of their design. This has occurred in many different forms, such as the emergence of new profiles of designers, the valorization of new types of places or the awareness of new uses. But more surprising is the remarkable diversification of formal and material specificities that have emerged since the turn of the 21st century, as well as the manifestation of new design references.
Within only a few decades, the field of public space design has gone through a profound transformation. However, the impact of these evolutions on cityscapes has not been substantially questioned so far. The aim of this research was to fill this gap by taking a critical look at contemporary public space designs in Europe, working on the basis of site visits, projects archives (genetic analysis) and interviews with designers. It has revealed a tendency to singularise current public space designs and, in an almost contradictory manner, to universalise them simultaneously. These trends contribute to creating public spaces as objects per se, by designing them as autonomous and transposable at once.