“Everything fell apart in the bathroom. They were on the other side of the wall. Bachira, frankly, cannot incriminate the neighbors for this surprising commotion. She now lives almost alone on the 9th floor of the Gluck building in the Reynerie, in Toulouse, surrounded by welded doors, surveying deserted corridors every day to find an elevator still in operation. And as the lighting is random in the common areas, she places small candles at the foot of her stairs so that her daughter can find her bearings in the dark when she comes to see her in the evening.
The sexagenarian, “there for thirty years”, is one of the irreducible of this Mirail residence dedicated to demolition for more than ten years. A dozen tenants, out of 208 housing units, refuse to leave this emblematic building designed by thearchitect George Candilis at the end of the 1960s. The crusade of the assembly of the inhabitants of La Reynerie is not new. Supported by a collective of architects, they preach for the rehabilitation of Gluck and the five other “Candilis” condemned within the framework of the urban renewal of Mirail. Their request for a moratorium did not resonate with the various local authorities concerned, nor did their ecological arguments in favor of a renovation which, according to them, would cost less.
Dismantling of balconies
But since last week, the time is no longer for the status quo, nor even for arm wrestling. To the great surprise of the remaining occupants and local residents, demolition work has begun. Not with heavy blows from a bulldozer or an excavator. But all the same, workers dismantle the railings of the balconies which land with a loud crash in giant dumpsters arranged at the foot of the building. “A work of selective deconstruction of unoccupied cages”, explains the Les Chalets group, the social landlord that owns the premises.
“I call it a big push. There are people in it! Normally they don’t have the right”, comments sadly Floréal, another tenacious resident, watching, camped behind the gates of the site, workers in fluorescent vests play tightrope walkers on the wing of the building where Bachira lives. He doesn’t want to be “uprooted” either. To leave his T5 crossing with a view of Lake Reynerie.
“A rehousing process has been put in place so that each family has a rehousing solution that best meets their expectations”, pleads the lessor, ensuring that he is carrying out “real tailor-made support, also supervised and validated by the State “. Above all, he insists on the purpose of the operation: “bringing changes to the neighborhood to improve the living environment in the years to come for the benefit of the inhabitants”. “We announce that the project will be marvelous for the district but that we will not be able to take advantage of it, it is daring” denounces the assembly of the inhabitants.
Legal action considered
Difficult to project for Floréal elsewhere than in this building where, as a neighbor slips, “you just have to go down to find five grocery stores, a pharmacy, three doctors and a bakery”. The historic resident agreed with his wife to visit an apartment not far away, in Bellefontaine. “It was smaller and more expensive. And we learned when we came back that the building was also going to be demolished in a year”, takes offense from the one who does not intend to spend his retirement moving.
In her pile of letters, Bachira has one from the Chalets informing her that she will not find the equivalent of her accommodation at the Reynerie. “I am diabetic, my friends live in the building opposite,” she gets carried away. “We know a lot of people who have left and who regret it,” adds Jean-Louis, spokesperson for the assembly of inhabitants. Faced with the headache, the latter has contacted a lawyer and is considering legal action to urgently stop the demolition site. She also calls this Wednesday afternoon for a demonstration in front of the Gluck building, which is now concretely in tatters.