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Saint Charles Site (Charleroi)

Wallonian Agency for integration of handicapped persons (AWIPH)

Since 1994 the Région wallonne has the jurisdiction of certain material concerning the policy in favour of the handicapped people. This is the reason why, according to a decree of its regional council, dated April 6,1995, it has founded the Walloon Agency for the Integration of Handicapped People (AWIPH). Following, the walloon government also has decided to build the seat of this new institution on the site Saint Charles in Charleroi.

The Walloon Minister of Social Affairs, Willy Taminiaux, has then suggested to insert the oeuvres of mentally handicapped artists on this new site. He commissioned the Centre of Liège for Accompanying the Mentally Handicapped Adults, called Créahm(Création - Handicap mental) to coordinate the project which, always according to the minister's wish, has to involve other institutions of this type established in Wallonia.

The Walloon Commission of Arts has been put in charge to assure the good implantation of this "parc of sculptures" and to organise a competition to choose an architectural landscape project in order to form the garden for these new occupants! It was the landscape architect Dominique Bonsang (office Verazur) who has been commissioned for this delicate mission




Saint-Charles site

   © Transit photo




The fabulous "zoo" of Créahm

At the heart of the planted garden between the houses of the Walloon Agency for the Integration of Handicapped People (AWIPH) there is a fabulous hidden world full with imaginative creatures. They are born from the unlimited imagination of ten artists of the Créahm(Création - Handicap Mental), the Centre of Liège for artistic studies of Mentally Handicapped Adults. The oeuvres of the Créahm artists, qualified as the "differentiated", are characterised by a free fantasy and a natural spontaneity, as well as by indifference towards the functional or academic standards.

Sometimes, one recognises an existing animal like a giraffe, an eagle, a dog or a whale and sometimes one is quite lost facing people from another world, whose build is as bizarre but strange as likeable, as with the group of martians or the "Grand Prince". So, all the imaginative creatures of this fantastic zoo seem to radiate an uncommon joy of life which they communicate to the people passing the parc. While they have a look at them their attention is drawn and a certain change happens between two different worlds: the one rational, organised, measured, often in a hurry, and the other irrational, spontaneous, unbridled, often open... Rarely, the affectation of an administrative building has taken shape as much as in this sculptured ensemble


© Transit photo


© Transit photo


© Transit photo



© Transit photo









A garden of transition

To form a garden planned to welcome the sculptures of the "differenciated" artists of Créahm and situated between buildings with a classical contemporary architecture was a difficult task ! One has to compensate for the informal and the formal, the irrational and the rational. The landscape painter and architect Dominique Bonsang has raised this bet up while concepting the garden of the AWIPH "plants" where the imaginative creatures of the fabulous "zoo" should be placed, invented by the Créahm artists.

A net of rectangular avenues splits the space in order to facilitate the moves. But the ways inevidently lead the passing people on a route around a central fountain in the form of a pyramide. So, the imperceptible sliding of the rational organisation of the garden into the irrational world of sculptures was symbolically put into form. The oeuvres are surrounded by green crinoids which form fences to a informal geography which assures the transition from the spirit of the sculptures to that of the architecture of the building. The passage across the parc is then transformed into a surprising trail across a fantastic world.


















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