EIVP and ECT conference « Earth in all its states »

Urban soil: An asset for the city of tomorrow

[Symposium, 22 and 23/06/2021]

This new symposium from the EIVP and ECT business chair "Upcycling Urban Soil" took place in partnership with the ENSP, and with the participation of Cycle Terre.

After a first symposium in April 2019 on "Earth in all its States", which analysed urban soil as a resource and material with many aspects, ECT and the EIVP take a deeper look and put soil at the heart of current debates on the sustainable city. Social, environmental and economic perspectives are at the centre of the examination that EIVP is undertaking in the context of their teaching and research chair.

Soil is an under-appreciated resource, and we believe it has a positive value in material / physical terms, in environmental and economic terms, and also symbolically and socially.

Every year in the Paris region nearly 10 million cubic metres of inert soil, the equivalent of four Great Pyramids of Giza, are produced by public and private works. It's a quantity that represents a significant issue for sustainability in urban and near-urban regions.

The conference "Urban Soil: An asset for the city of tomorrow" proposes treating this resource as a vector for the rehabilitation of derelict sites, as a defining element for new landscape in the regions, as a construction material that is respectful towards the environment, and as an essential element in the urban integration of green spaces of varying kinds and of biodiversity.

Invitation au Colloque EIPV et ECT

These 4 focal points demonstrate how urban soil provides a practical representation of a new and positive approach to their inclusion into policy-making for the sustainable city, as with energy; combining economy of resources and re-use of materials in a way that is respectful of the environment.

A great variety of examples and approaches both theoretical and historical will be explored during these four half-day sessions. International examples, debates, and analyses in both national and Île-de-France contexts will be discussed. The role of a new urban engineering will also be examined as a factor in a better consideration of inert soil in the sustainable city.

The programme for the symposium was prepared by a committee including Y. Diab, S. Alix, A. Grumbach, R. Semlali, V. Piveteau, B.Julien-Labruyère, S. Devescovi and M. Castex

The entire symposium is available to see again 

Part 1: Land, Soil and the Sustainable City (I)

Playlist of the half-day

  • Conference opened by Laurent Mogno (chairman of ECT) and Franck Jung (director of the EIVP). Overview of the conference and of the business chair 'Upcycling Urban Soil': Antoine Grumbach (AG Territoires) and Youssef Diab (manager of the 'Upcycling Urban Soil' chair at the EIVP, lecturer in urban engineering, Université Gustave Eiffel): see it here
  • For a 'circular economy' in land use: Marc Kaszynski (chairman of LIFTI): see it here
  • Support biodiversity with made-land developments: Bernard Chevassus-au-Louis (biologist, chairman of Humanité & Biodiversité): see it here
  • The innovative 'circular economy' model for excavated soils: Laurent Mogno, chairman of ECT see it here
  • Re-using soil in support of urban revitalisation: The Al-Azhar Park in Cairo, Christophe Bouleau (senior conservation officer, Aga Khan Trust for Culture) see it here  
  • Summary of the morning by Reda Semlali (director of institutional relationships and partnerships, ECT) and Youssef Diabsee it here

Part 2: Making Landscape: A positive view of the role of excavated soil

Playlist of the half-day

  • Building Landscape: A short history of earthworks and landscaping, Michel Audouy (lecturer at the ENSP): see it here
  • Fabricated Hills: Gaalad Van Daele (architect and researcher, ETH Zürich, editor of Accattone magazine): see it here
  • Inert soil: opportunities for making landscape, Loïc Pianfetti (head of the Paysage & Biodiversité department, SNCF Networks): see it here
  • Round-table discussion between urban engineering and landscape, between a landscape architect, Henri Bava; an architect, Antoine Grumbach; and two researchers, Mathieu Fernandez, engineer and historian; and Hong Zhu, landscape architect / Conclusion by Vincent Piveteau (director of the ENSP) and Youssef Diab

Part 3: Earth as a Material: The Cycle Terre project (Action Urbaine Innovante)

Playlist of the half-day

  • Soil, a living material for constructing a town: Jean Dethier, architect, author of 'The Art of Earth Architecture: Past, Present, Future'; commentaries by Romain ANGER, engineer (Amaco): see it here  
  • Presentation and progress report for Cycle Terre, an Urban Innovative Action (UIA): Silvia Devescovi (project officer for the Cycle Terre project, Ville de Sevran); Magali Castex (project officer for Cycle Terre, Grand Paris Aménagement): see it here  
  • Reproducing the Cycle Terre model/approach, and securing its future: Question and answer session, Sophie Schlewitz (Quartus): see it here
  • Reactions of two key observers: Raffaele Barbato (coordinator of UIA projects) and François Ménard (scientific director, PUCA): see it here
  • Conclusion of the morning by Benoist Apparu (chairman of the board of In’li): see it here

Part 4: Land, Soil and the Sustainable City (II)

  • Playlist of the half-day
  • Dynamics of the worsening landscape situation in the industrial section of the Meuse valley around Liège: Reclaiming degraded land is a central issue for the region. Joël PRIVOT (architect and town planner, consultant and researcher at the Université de Liège): see it here
  • The art of the urban hedgehog. Diplomacy and sharing the basis of life. Nicolas Gilsoul (architect, science PhD, landscape architect and lecturer at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Malaquais): see it here
  • Urban soils, a fertile and durable base: Jacqueline Osty (landscape architect, winner of the Grand prix de l'Urbanisme 2020): see it here
  • New approaches to make town planning sustainable: Thinking from humanities & social sciences meets thinking from nature in a dialogue between Luc Abbadie (ecologist, professor at the Sorbonne University) and Alain Bourdin (sociologist and town planner, professor at the Université Gustave Eiffel): see it here
  • Summary and conclusion of the conference by Jérôme Gleizes (chairman of the EIVP, elected member for Paris), Youssef Diab: see it here
Invitation au Colloque EIPV et ECT

The symposium was followed up with a collective work revealing the thousand and one ways in which inert soil can be upcycled. A golden opportunity to shine a light on excavated soil, which is at the heart of initiatives that are often unsung. Shows that soil is a marvellous resource.

The first symposium on the upcycling of excavated soil: "Earth in all its States"

The EIVP (City of Paris School of Engineering), a leading university for urban engineering, and ECT, the French leader in the upcycling of excavated soil, organised the first conference on "La Terre dans tous ses États" or "Earth in all its States". This conference is one product of the ECT business chair at the EIVP.

9 and 10 April 2019
at the EIVP, 80 rue Rébeval

Conferences and round tables: Researchers, developers, elected representatives, experts
Visit: ECT's site for management of excavated soil at Moissy-Cramayel (Seine-et-Marne, 77)

1001 ways to upcycle soil

Every year in the Paris region, nearly 10 million m3 of inert soil, the equivalent of four Great Pyramids of Giza, are produced by public and private works - a quantity that is a barometer of the sheer volume of public works currently happening in the Paris metropolitan area.

This work, arising from the conference "Earth in all its States", reveals the thousand and one ways in which inert soil can be upcycled. It's a golden opportunity to shine a light on the principles of 'circular economy' and ecological mitigation that are at the heart of these often unsung activities.

Soil is a marvellous resource!
A wide variety of solutions will be explored, ranging from remediation of polluted zones and backfilling of mines and quarries to the creation of planted parkland, the restoration of farmland, the transformation of soil into a construction material or topsoil, and the creation of works of art or works of urban engineering.

See the programme in detail