Minutes of the meeting organized by ADIR on the 30th April at the Escale premises.
FUTURE OF THE SOUTHERN ENTRANCE OF THE ROBERTSAU NEIGHBORHOOD: THE APOLLONIA GARDEN
Public meeting held on the 30th of April 2019 at the Escale Sociocultural Center, Robertsau.
Last Tuesday, April 30th, was held a public meeting about the “Apollonia Garden” project at the premises of the Escale Sociocultural Center, organized by the Association for the Defense of the Interests of the Robertsau (ADIR). The meeting’s purpose was to present the project to the inhabitants of the Robertsau; this allowed a hundred citizens to meet Jacques GRATECOS (president of ADIR), Dimitri KONSTANTINIDIS (director of Apollonia) and Georges HEINTZ (architect in charge of the project), and express their opinions on the future of the southern entrance of their neighborhood.
Mr. GRATECOS, Introduction
Explanation of the reasons for the holding of this reunion: ADIR supports Apollonia in their project, which offers at long last an innovative and consistent agenda for the Robertsau neighborhood.
Mention of the risk of over-concretization and lack of architectural coherence if the project is denied.
Situational analysis of the Robertsau today as seen by ADIR and glimpse of an incoming “sweet harmony”.
Mr. KONSTANTINIDIS on what is the “Apollonia Garden” project
After summing up all urban undertakings led by Apollonia, from the Artecitya program to the recent Vivacity project, Dimitri KONSTANTINIDIS brought to light the importance of the citizen’s and the artist’s points of view in addition to the politician’s in the development of the city. The people present at the meeting confirmed the Robertsau inhabitants’ wishes, expressed through social media, emails and public reunions: the development of nature, culture and leisurely activities. Those are all Apollonia’s wishes as well, as stated its director, for the association has now fully integrated the neighborhood and would like to commit to its inhabitants, avoid an over-concretization and continue its main activity, namely the promotion of contemporary culture.
The “Apollonia Garden” project is based on these three principles: nature, culture and leisure.
Where would it be located? On the three parcels located at the southern entrance of the Robertsau neighborhood (private lot on 23, Boecklin str., public lot now occupied by the artistic and participative garden, and public lot “106”, an empty one as of right now located between the artistic garden and the European School of Strasbourg).
What will the project consist of? A brand-new living environment, comprised of a restaurant, a bar, a hotel with terraces, co-working and other meeting spaces… but also, an exhibition space for European artists, bringing forth cultural exchanges and contemporary art. Finally, and most importantly, an inclusive garden open to everyone, joining artistic and participative vegetable garden – a wide green area that goes around the building and covers it. As a counter-argument to the fear of compartmentalization and lack of coherence with the current architectural structure of the surroundings, Mr. KONSTANTINIDIS introduced the notion of “global project”; the Apollonia Garden would be developed in relation with the rest of the neighborhood and even the city, in close collaboration with its neighbors.
However, as of right now, the project is stagnating: indeed, progress is impossible following the city’s refusal to sell public lot 106, an empty lot saved for the expansion of Strasbourg’s European School. For economical purposes, any further progress on the two available lots would require the removal of the garden for, which is unfathomable for Apollonia.
Mr. HEINTZ, architect in charge of the project
What would the final product look like? Mr. HEINTZ presents the architectural plans and sketches for the project: a large, tall and curvy building, winding across the green spaces on the outside. It would be comprised of rooms and workshops for the artists, as well as hotel rooms, restaurants, bars, co-working and living areas and exhibition spaces. Wide bay windows would allow access to the garden from any part of the building.
Following the presentations, local inhabitants present at the meeting had multiple questions concerning the project itself, its environmental and social impact and the economic independence of the structure.
As explained, Strasbourg is a city hosting art and architecture schools but missing cultural structures and exhibition venues. Thus, a brand new, fully autonomous artistic center at the gateway of an important neighborhood such as the Robertsau would not only go according to late Mrs. PFIRSCH (recently passed owner of Apollonia’s current lot) wishes and raise cultural and estate value of its surroundings, but it would also be perfectly coherent with the rest of the urban environment. The hotel and restaurants in the facility would all be managed by third parties, and would not only be a source of profit for the upkeep of the garden, but would also gain profit from the presence of public green spaces near it, allowing for a long-term shared space open for artists and public alike.
After the questions, the meeting ended on the promise of support from citizens and local organizations, with the idea of creating a public support committee to back the project.