The Mediterranean Vernacular City

The Mediterranean Vernacular City
'Hey, I care about you, come dance with me', public banner placed on Communitism building, a social, activist and cultural independent space, Laure Jaffuel, 2018, Athens, Greece
Learning from Athens as a resilient and spontaneous city to improve public space in Mediterranean area using vernacular design strategies

Laure Jaffuel
Athens, Greece / South of France
Laure Jaffuel is an emerging independent french designer, researcher and cultural producer based in south of France and in Athens.
Field of work
Design, Urban planning, Ecology, Research
Project category
Public space
Project submitted

Born and raised on the Mediterranean seashore and imbued with a southern France culture, Laure Jaffuel has always been interested in included her roots within her design practice. After studying object Design at Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (ENSAD) master program in Paris, she continues her studies at DAAP college for Design, Art, Architecture and urban Planning in Cincinnati USA thanks to a scholarship, and she finished her cursus by obtaining a second master degree at Dirty Art department of the Sandberg institute in Amsterdam.

Interested in the context where her work finds itself, she emphasizes on the design and the construction of situations surrounding her objects. She has a multilayered practice producing spaces, objects, events, situations, sound pieces, parties, scenographies or publications where diverse disciplines merge to celebrate the productive energy of the group, engaging in a dialogue with other artists, designers, DJs, architects, writers, etc. In her work, she particularly values an artisanal and local production with craftsmen, know-hows and materials that are in her immediate environment.

She works within diverse contexts ranging from public spaces to cultural institutions, offices to clubs, squats to social organizations, such as Centre Pompidou (Paris), Open Sails festival (Chania Crete) Flux Laboratory (Athens), Saristra festival ( Kefalonia Island Greece), Communitism (Αthens), De School Club (Amsterdam), Het Nieuwe Instituut (Rotterdam), Krux (Amsterdam), Macao (Milano), Mille Formes art center for Children (Clermont-Ferrand), and the 10th Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne, Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik (Berlin), among others. She was a participant of The Critical Practices Program of Onassis AiR in 2020, and of the Tailor-made Fellowships program in 2023 in Athens. She published ALL DAY ALL NIGHT, a book about Athenian public Space, published by Onassis Fondation and Dolce Publishing.

The city is boiling, the sun high in the southern sky, nobody is sitting outside anymore. But there is a vital force there, a collective and intimate feeling, in the street, on the main square, in the people.

The project started in Athens in 2020 with a artistic research about the Athenian public space and the publication of a book titled 'All day All night' supported and published by Onassis Fondation. Laure Jaffuel's interest about communal culture in Mediterranean area continues to developed in Athens and in Greece with several projects taking place in the public space. In 2023, within the framework of an artistic residency in Athens, she explored more specifically Mediterranean Urban Gardens as a social space and public cultural domain.

The Mediterranean city is a dichotomy model : at the same time a very inspiring street culture, vernacular architecture and vivid public space, but as well a challenging urban organization suffering from temperatures rise in Europe.The proposal is addressing 2 precise aspect of public space design implementation :
1/ Learning from Mediterranean public culture and vernacular city organization in Athens, we want to reappropriate collective urban areas, enhance social experience and create a form of public intimacy, to enable people to own back their space in the city.
2/ By exploring how to revitalize vacant plots of land in the city and outdoor commons, we'll learn from the local endemic Mediterranean plants to create urban gardens in public space, to enhance the presence of nature in the city as a tool to face climate-change and heat-waves in southern europe.

In the future, the proposal tends to become a model for other cities in European Mediterranean basin based on Athens' study case. Thanks to the program, the project will develop manifestos, design tools and sustainable strategies to address collective public space issues, and help people to reconnect with their cities in a more spontaneous and intimate ways.