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LA MECQUE
LA TRAME ET LA CHAÎNE
PÈLERINAGES À LA MECQUE, À LA RECHERCHE D’UN PAYSAGE PÉRÉGRIN
 
Auteur : Amine Ibnolmobarak
source : diplome ENSA paris malaquais, 2012
Directeur de département : Steven Melemis
Directeur d’étude : Pierre David
Second Enseignant: Jean Attali
 

“Pilier canonique de la religion musulmane, le pèlerinage à la Mecque est l’un des rassemblements humains les plus spectaculaires au sein d’un territoire restreint et durant un temps limité. Se déroulant pendant une dizaine de jours chaque année du calendrier de l’hégire, il consiste dans un déplacement rituel et simultané de millions de pèlerins venus de toutes parts du monde dans un terrain d’une dizaine de kilomètres carrés, contraint par ses infrastructures et un relief accidenté.
Les images et les échos que les médias en renvoient sont connus de la plupart : la foule magnétisée par le cube de la Kâbah, les piétinements meurtriers, les chantiers pharaoniques, les conditions climatiques extrêmes, le sacrifice du jour de l’Aïd.
Mais quoi d’autre ?”

Babel: name and translate
To interest oneself in the pilgrimage as an architect today requires consideration of an approach to this very particular territory that runs parallel to those developed during recent decades. One must respond with logistical infrastructure to satisfy the demand for reception facilities from a constantly increasing population of pilgrims, and on the other hand, to force oneself to formulate an architectural identity oscillating between the necessity to mark a unique territory already containing its own symbolism and a vocabulary that becomes progressively more generic and dazzling, that of the “success-story architecture” blooming across the neighbouring emirates.




 

This parallel - or out of sync - approach must be open, whilst obliging itself to look elsewhere, where the regard is perhaps not backward enough. In order to see the crowd, it’s foamy fringe, its kinetic dynamism, its consumerist force, its aestheticism and its undoubted marketing potential; the regard is turned away from the pilgrim, his body, his objects, the individual, carrying out his individual goal that he alone will achieve through the performance of his pilgrimage. As a result of viewing in the territory the possibility of subduing accidents, avoiding them, crossing over them, erasing them by ever more effective loops and designs, the regard has forgotten to interrogate what the landscape does: is the reflective ground of copper and tin? Is the white crowd pierced by black and green? Are the interlacing of paved paths pedestrian autoroutes? .. remaining solely in superposition, the persistent halogenic figure of the pendular loop, cold and worn, which design the movements of the pilgrimage.

It is necessary to direct a regard that can force a relearning and rearticulation of this particular organisation of people, sand and consumer goods. It is necessary for the architect to reflect in such a way as to at once grasp a defined situation in order to reintegrate it into an imaginable domaine, whilst bringing to its reading all that veils itself in the inexpressible, equipping the project to respond to singularity, and drawing out general lessons for a better comprehension of contemporary metropolitan conditions.


 

Myth and metropolis: “The pilgrimage is not just…”»
The pilgrimage is not just a spectacle, not just a mystical climax that pulls an entire community into its orbit, it is not just a territory ruled by rituals of absolute sanctity. It is all of these things, and also, once each year, a metropolis of many millions, possessing frontiers, a system of governance, dependant on the income of its businesses, inhabited by diverse ethnicities, woven with infrastructure. Putting aside the subjugation in order to question the “state” of the pilgrimage as a city is to accept the possibility of asking questions about its habitability as an environment and a territory, to be willing to transcend the sanctity of ritual in order to speak about this space-time as a place of coexistence and complex solidarities - human, economic and political.

In the metropolis, the testimony of people
In its finesse and its thickness, the element of testimony that each pilgrim carries with him is an irreducible substrate from which emerge many horizons of interpretation. The pilgrim projects himself in the pilgrimage, and in doing so, projects his past and future - his personality, the sum of his actions, his hopes - through the filter of the ritual. Each pilgrim makes his voluntary journey, aspiring to something that belongs to him: accomplish the ultimate Islamic ritual in order to acquire respect, enhance his reputation through the accumulation of as many pilgrimages as possible, be a physical part of the community of believers, redeem nefarious actions, achieve an exemplary status amongst peers and descendants, establish a privileged rapport with the divine, etc. The life story that each pilgrim carries with him translates in his behaviour, attitudes, the objects that orbit his body, his relationship with the places traversed and occupied during the rituals, all trace with his trajectory a true manifesto of bodily agency and usage of space.


 


 

Carpets : testimonies and landscapes in action
Testimonies differ or coincide from one pilgrim to another, from one period of history to another, sketching a polyphonic representation of the pilgrimage experience, with its resurgences, refrains, ruptures and continuities. This immaterial grid weaves itself with the metropolitan infrastructure network that it crosses, colouring, texturing, residing in and revealing what can be termed a Taskscape, a landscape that is worked by our tasks, whilst “working” on us in return.


 

Negotiation as project: reinhabit the territory
The work presented proposes a methodological exercise that identifies the pilgrimage loop as characteristic of this inhabited metropolis. This loop that gathers the multitude of destinies that borrow from it, cross, have crossed and will cross it, a sequence of finely balanced affecting spaces. Here, the loop has been unwoven as a carpet is unravelled. Isolating each thread, re-trimming it with reference to each place that it has occupied in the grid, comparing it with other threads that have traversed other meshes, sequencing their textures, retracing their origins, their weaving. From this triple reading - time, testimony, place - an analysis of usage and morphology - or typology - of inhabited spaces - the airport, the hotel reception, the mosque, the camp, the route, etc.- allows the horizons of a project to emerge. These horizons are superimposed on what is already there, incorporating it. Locally, systematically, propositions of mediation between an indescribable territory and active bodies that no longer recognise themselves within it. Considering the pilgrimage in this way returns us to thinking in terms of the familiar: transitional object, tool, link. The scales that these horizons touch return all to the need to relink - precisely: religare, religion. Clothing, a ground surface, a connected object, a refreshment facility, an administrative inbetween space, etc. If there is a project, it is necessarily in the interstice, at the limit between body and usage.


 


 

Already there: multiply the possibilities of the real
It has never been the aim of this project to put into question either the construction of reception infrastructure - which seems to be a necessity - or the increased frequentation of sacred Islamic places, but inversely, to demonstrate that it is essential to do more and better, to expand the field of the project by opening new windows. Carrying out a project within the conceptual framework of this work is simply to indicate - by way of a meticulous unweaving - the possibility for other projects to exist: pilgrimage projects, community projects, political projects, territorial projects, landscape projects. It is only possible in this way for the pilgrimage to incarnate this unique moment, infinitely symbolic of a plural community in search of redefinition.


 


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Photos prises à l'occasion de l'exposition New South à la galerie du Crous.
Novembre 2015.


©Pierre Seron  


©Pierre Seron  


©Pierre Seron  


©Pierre Seron  


©Pierre Seron  


©Pierre Seron  


©Pierre Seron  


©Pierre Seron