Inauguration of the "West-African Workshops of Urban Planning of Porto Novo", in Porto Novo, Bénin.
A new ramification of the International Workshop of Cergy is born... this summer 2010, Porto Novo, in Bénin, will host the very first African session of an international student workshop. The history of Porto Novo and of Les Ateliers has been linked since 2005, when the fisrt professionnal session of Les Ateliers in Africa took place.In 2009, this year, Les Ateliers came back for an « express » session of barely six days, when experts specified the directions given in 2005, applicated to the Western banks of the laguna.
This first student workshop in Africa inagurates a new cycle of independant workshops, aimed to engage a new dynamic of universitarian exchanges at a local and international level, in francophones and anglophones countries of Western Africa.
Porto Novo is the capital-city of Bénin... an historical and cultural capital-city, settled on the laguna’s waterside, in an exceptionnal but fragile natural site. The middle-sized city bears three names (Hogbonou, Adjatché, et Porto Novo), refelcting its african and colonial past ("Porto Novo" was the last name, given by the Portugueses). A cutural and religious capital-city, inhabited by kings and animated by the Voodoun cult, much more than an economic or politic capital-city, since nowadays it is the very near city of Cotonou, which detains an economic and demographic superiority. But the city benefits from uniques advantages : its cultural life, its exceptionnal landscape, and a quality of life higher than the neighbouring great cities of the coast : Lagos, Cotonou, Lomé... the dynamism of which Porto Novo can benefit from.
The city, setlled along the laguna, is enclosed by two green belts, two small alleys subject to floodings, receiving the floods of heavy-rains, leading the waters to the laguna, and also filtrating the polluted water. These two depressions suffer from the increasing and bad-monitored urbanisation : while putting concrete on the ground, the capacity of absorption and filtration shrinks and the volume of used water rises, endangering both the ecosystem of the laguna (invaded by water jacinthes), and the naturalregulation of the water level.
In order to control the urbanisation of one of these green valley, in the Eastern part of the city, the municipality of Porto Novo is planning to create a universitarian campus respecting the natural geography and functionning of the area, but also new element able to foster the cultural and academic influence of the city in Western Africa. This is the subject of this workshop, open to all, landscape designer, engineers, architects, agronomists, specialists in rural development, artists, and any other formation interested in Africa, cities and urban projects, in their last years of study, at a master’s degree level, or young profissionnal (less than 30).