“Homeless people” are often subject to stereotypes and generalizations that don’t take into account the increasing diversity of situations that result from new kinds of poverty and poor housing. Studies on their needs and aspirations in terms of dwelling and mobility are often misinterpreted or based on standards that aren’t appropriate for them. This research, conducted by a multidisciplinary team of students in political science and architecture in Bordeaux, seeks to understand the mobility and immobility of people who don’t have access to a private place of dwelling and intimacy, and the reasons why these practices come up against normative injunctions emanating from a variety of actors.
The collective SciencesPo/Architecture project is an educational program aiming to develop a common professional culture within the city between the students of the “Master’s in Metropolitan Strategies and Governance” at SciencesPo Bordeaux (directed by Gilles Pinson) and the “Master’s in Territorial Intelligence and Architecture” at the Bordeaux National School of Architecture and Landscape (directed by Stéphane Hirschberger). It brings students from both programs together to work on questions or projects commissioned by professional sponsors. The group consists of three political science students: Jeanne Agaësse, Louis-Baptiste Bertrand, Camille Radelet, and three architecture students: Lison Davault, Estelle Lafaille and Sarah de Sales. The group is supported by Valérie Diaz, an urban planner with Aurba, the urban planning agency of Bordeaux Aquitaine.
The term "homeless" covers a variety of situations that are driven by recent evolutions in forms of poverty and poor housing: as a category of people, it includes very different profiles (vagrants, migrants, Roma, travelers, mobile workers...) and contrasting social situations with regards to housing (having access to nighttime accommodation, daytime shelters or squats, living in a car or a truck...) and income (some are low-income workers, some receive government allowances, some have no resources at all...).
Not having access to a private place of dwelling and intimacy forces them to wander through the public space and perform some necessary trips in response to their precarious situation (administrative procedures, accessing associative resources, generally getting by...). Meanwhile, their search for shelter and the need to rest also leads them to spend time in these spaces. The result is a combination of mobility and immobility. These practices go against the contemporary trend to design cities increasingly as functional spaces and transit areas. As a result, various forms of control are exerted over these movements and dwelling locations, by multiple actors who directly or indirectly act upon the urban environment: privatization and commodification, regulation, “defensive” architecture and urban planning, police checks, hostility by residents... Not only do homeless people have trouble getting around due to a lack of resources, but they also face other forms of barriers, discrimination or practical obstacles (dogs being prohibited in public transport, lack of easy-access storage for their belongings...).
This project aims to analyze the arrangements between the mobility and immobility of homeless people in the public space of Bordeaux, paying particular attention to the tensions that exist between their aspirations and the constraints exerted on them by the socio-spatial features of the city and the public policies that apply at different levels.
A team of six students from SciencesPo Bordeaux and the Bordeaux National School of Architecture and Landscape will combine their complementary skills to establish an overview of the different forms of homelessness in the Bordeaux metropolitan area, as well as their specificities in relation to the local context. This exploratory diagnosis of these people’s various forms of dwelling and movements, as well as the constraints and opportunities they face with regards to their mobility/immobility, will lead the students to choose certain case studies for further research (analyzing a development project, studying specific profiles...). The aim of this project is to issue recommendations - addressed to public, private or non-profit actors - aimed at improving the living conditions of homless people in the metropolitan area. The methodology will strive to adopt the point of view of the people concerned, with a central focus on the specifics of their habits, needs and aspirations.