The BP area, called ‘la cite des ingenieurs’ is
located in the harbor area of Dunkerque, just
100 meters away from the oil refineries. This
housing area, within easy reach of this heavy
industry, reflects the ideas of the modernist
architecture of the garden village, with its
lay out of green, space, and spacious houses.
This housing area also reflects ideals - and
their ambiguity - of the 20th century western
thinking in urban and industrial planning:
people live near their work, and in such a way
engage with it and are available all the time.
The lay out of the area aims to generate a
sense of ‘neighbourhoodness’ which can also be
seen as paternalistic: communal playground,
communal tennis court, communal spaces, and of
course the company as a social working area.
The social positions the inhabitants were
taking inside the BP company correspond with
the size of the house they used to inhabit. In
this scale model of the ‘cite des ingenieurs’
the hierarchy becomes apparent in the different
size of the buildings.
The area is a city of dreams, imbued with
optimism and a strong belief in the increasing
development of mankind, endless economical
growth and welfare for everybody, with the
production of oil as the motor behind this.
Since 4-5 years this area has been deserted:
pollution appeared to be at such an intolerable
level that it was considered irresponsible to
allow people to live there any longer. During
the past years, the area has been maintained in
a representable state: the houses are well
kept, the grass of the lawn cut, and the
children’s playground looks like the children
will return any minute.