Rausa : derived from the Old French ros, meaning “reed” in English
Rausa, an exhibition of poetry and ecological positioning, compels visitors to think about the development of the city of Reims in its relationship with its natural environment and about whether the destruction of wetlands is contributing to flooding.
Artists Luca Antognoli and Gabriel Pontoizeau, the founders of Atelier Faber, pay homage to reeds – iconic wetland plants entrenched in the collective mind. Reeds are traditionally used to make thatch roofing, and here, this plant is the sole material used for a circular pavilion opened to the sky above, in the centre of the courtyard of honour at the Musée Saint-Remi. Bundles of reeds are stacked on top of one another to form a solid outer wall of cut reed stems, contrasting with a sensitive and delicate interior composed of the reed flowers, brought to life by the path of the Sun and breath of the wind.
Rausa is a metaphor, personifying what remains of the green space in the heart of our region, in order to raise awareness about its progressive decline and to support its preservation and development.
The reed bundles used for building Rausa are raw and unprocessed. Supplied by the company Rosobren (creator of organic and geo-sourced reed-based materials), they will be reused so that they can be converted into various products for a sustainable approach to a circular economy and zero waste.
Safeguarding the wetlands
The contrast between the old abbey and its urban setting, which has been deeply transformed, engages visitors. The urban redevelopment of the Saint-Remi district in the 1960s and 1970s wiped away the framework and historical fabric, pursuing an ambition of densification and extension of the city that had been initiated centuries ago. The gardens and agricultural land once associated with the abbey have long since disappeared. To the south, the presence of the Vesle river and its marshland landscapes is no longer discernible. Around the abbey, the soil is no longer natural; the land has been urbanised and the wetlands have disappeared.
This conversion of natural landscapes and destruction of wetlands continues to this very day. In France, between 60,000 and 80,000 hectares of land are artificialised each year. During the 20th century, the French territory lost 67% of its wetlands, and the situation continues to worsen today.
In addition to contributing to decreasing areas of fertile land, to the loss of biodiversity and to the damage to landscapes, the destruction of wetlands and the conversion of natural land makes the grounds impermeable and increases the risk of flooding. In fact, permeable grounds and, even more so, wetlands have a large capacity to store and progressively release large volumes of water, allowing the replenishment of groundwater and streams, which prevents floods.
Over the next few years, the increase in alternating periods of hot weather and heavy rainfall further heighten the risk of flooding. Safeguarding the wetlands and making the land natural again are crucial.