Si, comme on le dit, la particularité de Calais, c’est “une pauvreté généreuse”, la pauvreté n’est pas la misère. On peut être pauvre et généreux, et solidaire. On peut avoir peu de chose et les partager. L’architecture du Channel est également pauvre et en meme temps généreuse, parce que le peu qu’elle a, elle le donne.


Patrick Bouchain’s projects typically evolve through a collaborative network of artists, government officials, residents and interested people. With the network in place, a site may initially be activated with the installation of a small public space – a multi-functional pavilion that facilitates assembly and is organized around some combination of food, exchange and exhibition. The temporary construction is the material point of social impact and site of speculative convergence where architects, participants, locals, builders and curious passersby mix, share intellectual resources and form alliances. It is also an investigation that adjusts a site’s projected function to the specific requirements of its social, economic, political and geographic context.

The cabane de chantier assembled on the site of a former slaughter house in Calais is a prototypical example of a catalyzing insertion. Completed in 2004, it served as the first step in the transformation of a marginal site into what is currently known as le Channel, la scène nationale de Calais . In this tangible nexus, daily exchange between construction workers, architects, artists and the public took place. And, perhaps, most importantly, the cabane set the site into motion prior to the completion of the construction project. Meaning, the process of building The Channel was transformed into a public program. To imagine construction as a porous, interactive, or performative practice is to reconsider the very nature of production, which has come to define the end of the Modern industrial cycle.

Patrick Bouchain’s project at  le Channel  is a collaborative triumph. The project works in active dialogue with elements designed by  François Delarozière, artistic director of La Machine and responds to the creative vision of Francis Peduzzi, the director of the la scène nationale de Calais. The site’s qualities draw heavily on the enthusiasm of Bouchain’s accomplices: Loïc Julienne’s attentiveness and unfaltering presence during construction, Liliana Motta’s vegetal aspirations. The list goes on…

– Anya Sirota

During our visit, we had the pleasure to meet Lena Pasqualini, the secrétaire générale, who far from recounting the logic of the site, performed it.

– Anya Sirota