Research project | Deep design lab

Renouer (re-knot)

Making world(s) with an “invasive” plant

Par Simone Fehlinger

© JS Poncet

An experimental project by Jean-Sébastien Poncet within the Deep Design Lab Cité du design, co-produced by the École urbaine de Lyon - études urbaines anthropocènes.

Axis Urban Grounding
Tools and scenarios for making world with an "invasive" plant ― remediation of polluted soils.

Projet by : Jean-Sébastien Poncet, associated designer-researcher
Partner : Epase

2019–en cours

Japanese knotweed ("la renouée du Japon") is commonly known as an "invasive plant". It is classified among the 100 species of special concern of the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature). Its development, favored by the impoverishment of soils and climate change, is responsible for the degradation of ecological environments as well as infrastructures (roads, buildings, etc.). It is however not without qualities. In its native area, Japanese knotweed is an early adopter of volcanic soils. The plant stabilizes metallic elements while "preparing" the soil for more elaborate systems, like the bramble, which in European biotopes "incubates" acorn oak to give way later to the forest. It also offers several applications known in the fields of pharmacology and beekeeping.

We hypothesize that Japanese knotweed may be the agent for the remediation of urban soils, especially in cities of degrowth. We imagine a farm whose activity turns around the Japanese knotweed. Its operating model is based on extracting the plant's values in order to restore the soil it occupies.
In terms of design, we propose to work on the development of technical forms of agricultural activity (tools, products, ...). Beyond their own specific functions (hoeing, carding, housing bees, ...), these forms have for purpose to set the terms of a contract of cohabitation with the plant. In other words, the design here is part of a "cosmotechnical" approach (Ahmed Ansari) where the objective is to design tools that make it possible to make world with- for-, with- human and non-human inhabitants, for- "maintaining and increasing biological diversity, source of amazement, guarantee of the future" (Gilles Clément).

This work was supported by a state funded « Investments for the Future » program operated by the French National Research Agency (reference ANR-17-CONV-0004).

Par Simone Fehlinger

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