Building protection policy :
a new focus of participative democracy
Experts and laymen working together to implement a joint city building protection policy
From 2001 to 2007 the City of Paris undertook an original experiment that had never been tried in France : it opened the process of shaping its Plan Local d’Urbanisme policy for protecting city-owned buildings to participation from the entire population of the capital city. Nearly 8000 extremely heterogeneous proposals from residents, associations, elected officials, architects, city planners, art historians and others were examined. This article focuses on how the list of buildings to be protected was determined, bringing to light how the different types of knowledge and judgment, experts’ and laymen’s, interacted. It shows how the very nature of the focus of this joint undertaking – building protection policy – impacted significantly on actors’ relations and process results. This in turn indicates the relevance of reintroducing this dimension – strikingly absent from most studies – into analysis of democratic participation arrangements.