Unbuilding MTL

Carole Lévesque

Storefront for Art and Architecture

Taking buildings down

January 2016




with Samuel Rancourt

Terrain vague is a term associated with dirty or avoided spaces of our cities, a territorial indication of where something needs to be fixed or improved. But the terrain vague harbours a range of unique qualities and characteristics: it may or may not have a clear boundary, has no immediate or foreseen purpose, no signs of property nor signals of property. It is empty, but not a park; owned, but not occupied; it is open land, and having no immediate utility value attached, it becomes open0ended. It is in this sense that the contribution of the terrain vague to the fabric of the city is revealed: it is the locus of the possible, the field of urban imagination, where the germ of new ways of conceiving the city can take bed. Like cities with reservoirs for their drinking water, the terrain vague is a reservoir of human and urban potentiality that sustains the city.


The terrain vague’s contribution od an unknown immanence to the city could be embraced and empowered. If the terrain vague could be made part of a city’s development, i.e. if it were calculated and mandatory, it would ne longer be spoken of as waste or undesirable. If the terrain vague too part in the economy of city making, our reading of t could change from something to dispose of to something that is necessary and positive.

UnBuilding MTL