An urban curiosity with multiple functions
In a district undergoing transformation, this is a previously unseen architectural project that was established on rue Gisèle Freund in Rennes. Designed by architect Nicolas Lebunetel, Le Mur habité has a number of functions. Its primary purpose is as a soundproof wall that masks the sound of the Brest-Rennes railway, while playing on the visual effect of passing trains, like a silent tracking shot. The long and narrow building, which combines wood, glass and colourful panels, is punctuated by flowerbeds that provide a welcome breath of fresh air. The wall is also topped with a walkway promenade in order to provide a view. The passage eventually joins up with Boulevard Voltaire, running along the Magasins Généraux building. It is a wall that is “habité” (inhabited) by artisan-creators who have been there since spring 2020.
“A premises unlike any other in France”
“It is a premises unlike any other in France” explains Anthony Férard, head of operations at Territoires, the organisation that has led the project. “The project started with stresses caused by the railway. There was a need to install a wall to prevent noise pollution to make the district habitable. This was especially the case as the Ateliers du Vent regularly blocks off this pedestrian area on Thursday evening for its art events. This is why we wanted the project to also host artisan workshops and a high promenade, to go beyond just its noise-dampening function”.
The other objective: Le Mur habité is an opportunity to bring artisanal trades back to the heart of the city. “The units are equipped to meet the needs of artisans who are launching their work; it’s a way to help them get started” adds Anthony Férard. “Ultimately, it’s a bit like an incubator for artisans”.
A place for living, walking and creativity
Similar to the one-storey houses from the past, each 20 m2 unit houses both a workshop and a shop for creative artisans who work in a very wide range of industries: graphic design, silkscreen printing, DIY, sewing, interior design, artisanal plumassier, silver jewellery and tailored clothes, etc. Of course, all of the products are made on site.
Therefore, local creators can showcase their expertise and create a new life and a new trade opposite the Ateliers du Vent. This is an artistic collective that has long been livening up the district with exhibitions, theatre shows and artistic events. It is a lovely place that is also environmentally and solidarity conscious, where you can come to eat at the Ateliers canteen and have a drink at the refreshment stand.
Incidentally, the competition between the two creative spaces is an integral part of the project. “The idea is to be involved in a collaborative work between the visual arts of the Ateliers du Vent and the handcrafted arts in Le Mur habité” explains Anthony, from the Territoires organisation. This approach has already been adopted by artisans who were able to meet visitors when doors opened on 3 October 2020. “We are very happy to have the driving force of the Ateliers du Vent next door, with artisans to create an interesting competition” says Nicolas Mangin, a jeweller at Septentrion workshop.
With Le Mur habité, the square around Ateliers du Vent is much more alive and provides a lovely shop front for Rennes’ creators. Just one more reason to take a walk in this new, unique location close to the city centre in the Cleunay neighbourhood.
The artisan-creators of Le Mur Habité
- Aurélie Cousin, lampshade maker, breathing life back into old pieces by restoring lampshades. She also sells her own creations to brighten up your homes.
- Mélissa Pasquier, artisanal plumassier, offers a range of feathers in all of her decorative creations.
- L’Atelier Septentrion works with silver to fashion jewellery using the ancestral technique of de fonte au sable (sand casting) that dates back to the Bronze Age. For rings that look a bit rough and rock n’ roll.
- Burosuper is an independent graphic design studio that shares its space with Sarah Chantrel, a designer who creates bags, accessories and small pieces of hand-made furniture.
- Atelier RK is a sewing studio. The studio is owned by two sisters and offers lessons to learn the basics of sewing.
- At Loulataï, you can find lovely silver jewellery in a unit shared with Bibi Machette, a silkscreen printing and linocut studio.
- Naïs D. Créations creates tailored clothing for women that are bespoke for each client. The stylist also organises DIY workshops to rejuvenate the clothes abandoned at the back of your cupboards.
- Le Mur habité is located at 3 rue Gisèle Freund in the Cleunay district in the west of Rennes. Open Monday to Friday depending on the hours for each artisan. Bus: line 9, Voltaire stop; Star bike, Voltaire stop; metro (as of June 2021) line B, Mabilais stop.