Chronicle | The Attali report, or the revival of Utopias?

In a guided analysis of the Attali report, the architect and urban planner Jean Magerand assumes the role of Candide; It does not address the problems that are annoying because it is the working method and the areas of design, environment and construction, in the broad sense, that have taken its attention. A useful model? Prospective chronicle. This column appeared in first publication on CyberArchi on February 06, 2008 the report by Jacques Attali for the economic development of France reminds us that Utopia is still alive and well. I am not talking about utopia in the sense of "unrealistic project". I am talking here about the Utopia-Noble, the one that is to project an ideal societal scheme towards the future, not so much to apply it verbatim, as to obtain a critical model with regard to our contemporary practices outdated. I am of course greedy for this kind of process, he comforts me in the comment on the city, on the town, on the territories of tomorrow, as I have been developing, for many years, in my research, in my teaching of architecture and, For a few months, in the pages of this topic prospective. Let's note, to begin with, the structuring and objective hypothesis of Jacques Attali, who tables on nine billion earthlings in 2050, because of the improvement in life expectancy. Let us take note of the consequences of this population density, such as the scarcity of water, energy and agricultural production. Let us welcome the principle of its report, which is to expose in the public place a text of economic guidance which we should, a priori, have the opportunity to debate collectively. We will not dwell on the primary purpose of the Economist's work carried out by Attali. He had the avowed purpose of being the force of proposition for the revival of the national economy. The report is, although Attali defends it, above all ideological. It takes into account, in a oriented way, the major inescapable tendencies and it draws a "better sustainable" economic panorama for France. However, today our national interests can no longer be isolated from those of the planet but with the utmost caution. I will therefore follow Attali with a lot of moderation on the track of the "Liberalism with human face" that he proposes to us. On the other hand, the gymnastics between the desire to please the Prince of the right and the desire not to excessively renounce his mitterrandiennes positions, leads him to large-sometimes perilous gaps that would require the launch, if not a polemic, at least of a debate To clarify certain points. On the list of ' squeaks ': the development of low-price airlines that Jacques Attali wishes. The pure and hard of ecology will probably not remain silent when it comes to commenting on the multiplication of sources of "flying pollution". Still at the ' throughput ' of the Attali report, the proposal for the generalization of PPPs, particularly in social housing. There it is the architect who is bristles. If PPPs can (perhaps) improve the management of canteens or the quality of repetitive services, they can be particularly harmful in very complex areas such as those of the built-up framework and development. There are tailored services where creativity, invention, poetry, attention to future users etc., are very time consuming and reluctant to economies of any order, including economies of scale, except to sacrifice the quality of urban habitability (see the HLM of the years 70). A suburb paved and structured in the fast-moving (even with a multitude of ISO) will never have the charm of Montmartre (i.e. the ability to be pleasant to live on a daily basis) a fortiori if it is rehabilitated in the framework of a PPP. Sustainable development, the real one, is not only pure air and economic ratios but also a quality of places that contributes to the quality of the environment and precisely to the quality of life. Habitability is as important as the cost of producing the square metre of flooring. This risk of disappearing the essential part of the value of use is further amplified by referring to the recent awareness of future planetary disasters and the normative and regulatory constraints that it will inevitably generate. From my point of view, the Attali report presents one of his Achilles tendons. Because of the serious threats to us, the areas of "Environmental design" have the moral duty of a production compatible with the sustainability of nature and with the flourishing of individuals and peoples. From there arises a new international and planetary law. This right now belongs, in an unmistakable way, to the field of the fundamental rights of peoples and individuals to live freely in a healthy and sustainable environment. It proceeds from a total logic of ' collective good ' and can only be the exclusive result of a public service, managed by the community, in the interest of the latter. It is in addition to other fundamental rights such as the right to justice and police that are wholly independent of private or political interests. It would not come to anyone to outsource the power of judges and police to private services, albeit framed by perfect PPPs. In this context, in the area of development, taking the risk of systematically and unconditionally mixing the private sector with such environmental issues, through the use of PPPs, is an aberration that I denounce vigorously. I will not cast any further controversy on these incongruities, moreover skilfully argued by Jacques Attali, to come to the constructive and/or critical aspects of his report, and in particular to those that concern us in the fields of Development and construction. In the register of strong proposals, a hypothesis by the famous economist attracts all my membership because it will have a direct impact on the areas of planning, environment and construction. It concerns the technological means, of which Jacques Attali says that they will become increasingly important in the societies of the future. Global human production is such, on a daily basis, that the margin of manoeuvre is increasingly restricted in terms of solutions compatible with environmental balances in general. Jacques Attali brings to the forefront the nanotechnologies and the material and conceptual worlds they will bring to life. He argues about the imperative need to massively equip himself in computer science. This measure is not only a joker to gain market share. Attali understood it, we inevitably enter the world of simulation and modeling. The real challenge is to better control the high-power computational tools that are effective in modeling the organization of the natural environments and the organization of the artificial footprint on these natural environments. Here the writer-techie interests me to the highest point, because it lies on trajectories that defeat the dominant languages, Technophobes ' by default ', of which we suffer particularly, today, in the world of development. This overequipment is posed by Attali as a necessity to better constitute a tool to combat the French economic recession and I believe it willingly. For my part I see much more the opportunity to acquire new cultures that will allow us to be more aware of the importance of our daily actions on the major balances vital, whether ecological or societal. It is from this consciousness, worth caution, that we can draw collective wisdom to reduce the disorders we produce on the planet as a skin of sorrow. The importance of building and town planning did not escape the rapporteur of the President of the Republic. He stressed the need to launch a massive and thorough research on the construction and the new materials potentially derived from nanotechnologies. He also calls for the creation of ten eco-cities in France. These cities would bring together advanced technologies to serve a high-quality urban environment. For my part, I can still only fully adhere to this proposal, since I have already mentioned, on several occasions in this section, the need for an experimental reflection on the sustainable city with very high technicality and that I am working on this subject For many years. About these ten eco-cities, it seems that the President of the Republic has made the pout. Clearly, this disapproval, if confirmed, would not sign their death warrant. Attali has introduced the utopian principle of the city to sustainability-integral and high technical in the public place; Sooner or later it will be implemented. From my point of view, and obviously, this is the only way to proceed experimentally, and then pragmatically, to start developing high-performance urban devices through the use of new computational powers. Thanks to the latter, it will be possible to make the human density on earth compatible, the urban conviviality and the sustainability of the complex equilibrium of the planet. What is particularly noteworthy is the philosophy and argument on which Jacques Attali bases his proposal. The latter directly asks us about the major changes that will format our natural and artificial environments, whether cultural or economic. The implicit and stripping criticism of the small privileges of all orders crippling the re-distribution of wealth and powers is succulent, even if it remains a little discreet about the real great privileges. The systematic confiscation of initiatives at the expense of talents is just as delicious to see being hurt. Let us take note that this criticism is of order to make a little move the monopolies which paralyse for example research and higher education. This approach deserves to be welcomed in our areas of development, where the administration has often remained in the ways of doing the 19th century. In this oriented analysis of the Attali report, I fully assume the role of Candide by addressing little of the problems that annoy. Others will take care of it, each with its specificity. For my part, it is the method of work that attracts all my attention. First of all, the subject is approached with amplitude. Health, finance, aeronautics, agri-food, distribution, tourism, educational services, personal service, etc., are the object of a sound critical approach and constructive proposals. All of these areas are a relatively comprehensive societal panorama. Obviously, the social aspect is treated with enthusiasm but whose shortcomings are constantly at the heart of the text. I obviously agree with the intention of the report, which has the ambition of constituting not a series of measures juxtaposed but a device of complementary actions, in interference, intertwined and coherent between them. To reason the whole of activities and cultures (and not just the economy), in a global way, allows to re-visit the very notion of collective project. A real utopia in some way! By linking Techniques nouvelles, company, administrations, user, sustainable development, environment, economy in a single continuum, Jacques Attali brings us into an ecosystem thought, only able to take into account both the interest of People, the communities and the nature. It was long overdue that the "complex thought" (in the sense of Edgar Morin) Finally, officially, make its entrance into the politico-economic world. It's done and it's so much the better, even if everything is not yet perfect, far from it. In any event, in this context, the territory is approached from the outset in a ' complex ' manner and the Attali report points, quite by way, to the need for a method that is better suited to the complexity of sustainable development. In these circumstances, repositioning men (within their activities) as bearers of values from which the social and then economic reorganization is refounded is a far more enticing journey than that of the ' all-economic ' which has been, up Present, our only horizon. Attali's thinking, from a methodical point of view, is a clear step forward with regard to the scenarios that have become habitual. The latter fragmented the proposals by sectors, piecemeal, and totally inféodaiented daily life to the market imperatives. The introduction of the concept of governance is also a major step forward, although its application remains particularly delicate because of our secular culture of hierarchy. The strong point of the Attali report is that it proceeds from a model that can be useful just as much to deal with a country, the planet, a territory, a set of individuals. This ' economic-societal ' approach opens the door to an overall vision of society and, in turn, to implicit methods of analysis of the city and the town. Applied to the French territory alone, they may seem cocardières and selfish. They have the merit of opening up to criticism and debate. Under the pressure of a real public discussion, they also have the advantage of asking a new method of change with overall coherence. Once collectively developed (if the policies so wish) the principle of ' economic-social and societal ' modeling can be compared with those experienced in other countries and gradually give birth to international models generously Concerted and applicable to the greatest benefit of the entire planet. Like Jacques Attali, I think that an era is over and that we are actually going towards density, towards scarcity, towards the need to solve more and more complex problems in times of increasing shortness. In this wake, of course, I advocate going up to the front very quickly and as quickly as possible, in order to start imagining the technical, environmental, urban, territorial and agricultural worlds of tomorrow. But the challenge is not only to acquire new techniques to solve new problems. The challenge, the real thing, is to acquire the culture that goes with it, a culture of ' high techniques ', formed in a spirit of pacifism, a culture of collaboration, cooperation, tolerance, governance, sharing and not just a culture of Competitiveness and strength ratio. The Utopia of Jacques Attali is a good opportunity to launch the debate between ' pro ' and ' anti ', in order to advance ideas. The competitiveness of France will then come… Jean Magerand architect, planner and landscaper, Doctor of Science of the info. com., teacher at the School of Architecture of Paris-la-Villette. E-mail: