Aymeric Bemer, engineer and teacher: "Building better by dealing with new challenges"
Aymeric Bemer, engineer and teacher specializing in energy and the environment, is responsible for optimizing the environmental performance of the projects of the Patriarche architectural firm in Lyon. For him, we must make our cities resilient to the phenomena and transformations to come.
Do we still need to build?
This question is in itself the reflection of the crystallization of the major challenges of our contemporary era, echoing the depletion of resources, the multi-scale environmental impacts, and the recent globalized carbon quantification of our actions. It is a question as much political as metaphysical, economic, social, cultural, environmental and philosophical. The history of humanity is not to deconstruct. We must put an end to the binary approach and try to understand this complexity with subjectivity. It is important to maintain our development in order to offer adequate services to maintain the health and safety of all, bearing in mind that the construction sector is certainly the most energy-intensive sector and the third most polluting, but it remains the primary pool of jobs and the economic engine of our country. Even if, as in the Parisian example, we expressed the desire to stop all new construction, we are in a society that is changing and which must remain resilient, so there will always be requests for the extension of a wing of a hospital in order to meet new needs or offer better services, the creation of crèches in neighborhoods in high demand, the renovation of a dilapidated school, a planted public space refreshing the heart of the city, cultural centers and sports equipment, collective housing, infrastructure, etc.
How to build?
It is possible to work to continue to improve our approach by dealing with the new energy, low-carbon and living issues. If we compare a building from the last century with contemporary constructions, we can observe an evolution in the quality of the work, its accessibility, its thermal comfort, its energy performance, its air quality, the penetration of natural light, the risks for health, etc. The question is therefore no longer to know if we still need to build, but to know how to continue to build better, by coming to terms with new structural challenges. Putting efficiency at the service of resilience. Globalization has recently shown these weaknesses, national resilience must move towards a new internal organization and must relocate its production as well as its know-how. We must prepare for the emergence of a national plan for this purpose. Concretely, stopping building is not part of the program, but we must continue to favor renovation and ensure control of urban sprawl by removing waterproofing and developing nature in the city.
What about the non-artificialization of soils?
We, designers and planners, must now take care to deploy the harmonization of the links between Man and the Living. We have to take care of the layout. Our responsibility as a builder, regardless of the scale of our action, obliges us more than ever to reclaim the consequences of our actions on our environment. This responsibility must be part of the teaching program of architecture and engineering schools, in order to integrate it into our approach and our projects. It is essential to stem urban sprawl and contain the artificialization of soils, with a focus on the treatment of polluted land, this is a common sense consensus.
Biodiversity has never been in so much trouble and each sector of activity must work on its relationship to this observation, in order to organize a change ofheading firm and urgent. It is now legal to artificialize virgin areas, but is it therefore legitimate and fair to continue in this way in the face of the environmental context? Citizen action alerts and mobilizes to act on this subject. Faced with this observation, the Anthropocene must take on a new face in order to give grandeur to a century that is already well tainted.
Interview by Stéphanie Obadia, Director of Construction21