PENGZHOU / Jianjiang Valley

PENGZHOU / Jianjiang Valley

Agence Ter’s masterplan for the Jianjiang Valley is structured in three major parts:

  • First, a reorganization of mobility across the valley
  • Second, a strategy for urban development and the preservation of the natural areas
  • Third, The creation of 7 emblematic projects

The valley is not only identifiable by its two banks, but also by its three topographic layers. The river bed is the first, the river bank slopes the second and the ridge, a remarkable element, the third. Each layer is associated with a different approach to architecture.

The valley is composed of 6 major and 3 peripheral villages. How to densify this valley and provide all necessary services without destroying its intrinsic qualities? The answer is found in the creation of a synergistic loop of 7 villages.

The proposed design developments for each village are based on:

  • A densification of the existing urban fabric: filling the gaps and reinforcing the edges
  • The creation of an ecotone, a transition zone between the urban and the rural territories, where a system of renewable energy can be developed
  • The preservation of areas of fertile soil, important for biodiversity as well as the agricultural character of the valley.

A range of nocturnal atmospheres/ambience is created along the river. These follow the progression from urban to rural landscapes. Bridges, temples, industrial structures and refuges are illuminated to be visible down in the valley. These illuminations create landmarks in the wide nocturnal landscape with each village is acting as an attractive point of light. Together these villages, and especially the emblematic projects, create a constellation of different identities in the night which help enforce their unique identities.

The seven emblematic projects of the Jianjiang river valley accompany the major principles of the landscape project. They are located near the town centers of each village in continuity with the pedestrian crossings on the Jianjiang River. Each project is unique in its location, identity and aesthetic.

BEIJING / South Axis

BEIJING / South Axis

The competition “imagining the southern extension of Beijing’s central axis” was launched by the Territorial office of Beijing in the cities of Fengtai and Dongcheng. This project intends to define a territorial strategy for the southern part of the capital by respecting its original axial system. Over 800 years, the central axis of Beijing has guided the development of the city. Yet over the last decade unprecedented urban growth has created inevitable expansion outside city boundaries, far away from the historical axis.

This proposal to extend the north-south axis presents several opportunities. Beyond organizing the urban growth of Beijing as it reaches a new urban airport in the city’s south, it has the capability to test new principles for ecological urbanism. In integrating historical aspects of the axis within the contemporary development of the metropolis, the proposal would also plan for their inclusion as UNESCO world heritage sites.

The project proposal is formulated around the redefinition of the axis as a modular public space system, as an element of local culture and as a succession of gates and structural squares for new neighborhoods. In the South, the project defines a new urban edge between the dense city center and the periphery through the design of a new gate to the capital. The gate is accompanied by a park of 900ha that creates the scenographic staging of city and nature. The new urban fabric is designed based on historical local geometries, the large imperial park (Nanyuan) and its original access road.

ANTWERP / Over the ring South

ANTWERP / Over the ring South

The project “Over the ring: South” is part of an extended territorial reflection on the future of Antwerp’s ring road infrastructure. This project explores covering the ring road in strategic locations in order to create opportunities for urban connections, public space and future development. The core ambition is to (re)create a continuity in the city to repair the infrastructural rupture created by the ring road when it was introduced in the 1960s. The project area is situated along 4 km of infrastructures and includes all existing urban and landscape edges. How can covering portions of the ring road also become a tool that triggers progressive transformation of the territory?

The project of the ring is an illustration of the exceptional opportunities created by prioritizing the city of tomorrow over the infrastructures of the previous century. The future city is defined by its network of slow and public transportation systems, by collective spaces and ecological reserves, with its mixed urban developments, its nodes of metropolitan and local activities, all with respect to the greater landscape which functions as an armature for creating new spatial and visual connections.

Within the large-scale vision for the masterplan, pilot projects are strategically formulated based on their capacity to initiate a progressive transformation of the larger site. Pilot projects focus on the longitudinal continuities alongside the entire ring road, as, for example, hydrological or ecological strategies, or strategies against noise and air pollution. Other pilot projects develop spatial proposals for key points on site that can connect neighborhoods or create metropolitan nodes.

Intense dialogue with the inhabitants and community groups established project objectives and revealed the many points of view, constraints and opportunities of the site. Through workshops, site walks, presentations and individual dialogues, a critical link has been established between the design team and the site’s inhabitants and users.

SAINT-NAZAIRE / Coastline

SAINT-NAZAIRE / Coastline

The metropolis of Nantes-Saint-Nazaire, historically a dispersed group of villages, has changing over time from an inhabited countryside to a true metropolis. This political recalibration of the territory engenders a reevaluation of the intrinsic qualities countryside as well as the central city. The project demands an understanding of how this countryside, a natural area that makes up a large majority of the metropolitan area, can now become collective spaces for the 90% of the people that do not inhabit it on a day to day basis. The question is also what proportion of these spaces can contribute to a collective, shared identity for the metropolis.

The study for the coastal interface tends to interpret the territory based on the insular character of the peninsula of Guérande. The notion of edges, understood here as critical zones of interaction and interfaces between two distinct environments, helps formulate a conceptual and operational answer. This macro-approach demonstrates how the edges can play a role in the overall strategy, as a tool to understand the land but also as a project thickness. It is a transversal tool that allows to address multiple problematics simultaneously (tourism, ecology, urban development, properties, etc …). The edges become strategic places, important yet fragile. Our reading of the territory allows us to highlight three types of edges that can be leveraged for the territory’s transformation: the coastal edge, the counter-coastal edge and the in-between edge.

The ambition is to create a vision of the territory on a large scale, to understand the different forces that are present and how the landscape will structure this vision. Finally, shifting to a human scale, three project areas between Pornichet and Saint-Nazaire are investigated in greater detail and provide a testing ground of large-scale strategies by confronting them with site-specific realities.

BRUSSELS / Metropolitan Landscapes : Molenbeek Valley

BRUSSELS / Metropolitan Landscapes : Molenbeek Valley

The Molenbeek Valley is a historical landscape, rich in natural environments and activities, and reflects the opportunities and threats for the position of landscape and (peripheral) open space within the metropolitan development of Brussels. With its position between the regions of Flanders, and the Brussels Capital Region, the valley is marked by an administrative and political rupture in addition to  the large contrast between city and countryside. Therefore, the Molenbeek valley is a hinge territory, offering much potential to become an instigator for the development of tomorrow’s peripheral Brussels.

In this research by design project, the urban fabric is reflected and shaped by its landscape structures, primarily read in section. The strategy for the development of the Molenbeek Valley is based upon the topographical characteristics of the site. This leads to the definition of multiple morpho-typologies of open space depending on their height within the valley structure: hilltop, cascade and low valley. These functional as well as spatial typologies translate into locations: for a (metropolitan) landmark, for an intensive confrontation with the urban tissue or for a natural corridor.

The overall vision for the Valley is to create a productive park for Brussels West, inducing a mind shift in the metropolis and allowing the urgent problematic of food sustainability to become visible. The park will introduce short circuits, and will combine ecological, productive and public spaces into one coherent (peri-urban) landscape structure. The relation with the surrounding tissue is essential in this respect. Diverse pilot projects have been pre-defined for the different sequences (rural, hinge or urban) of the park.

The metropolitan landscape of the Molenbeek Valley becomes a hinge and lever for the development of the Northwestern periphery of Brussels.

NANTES / Edges to Edges

NANTES / Edges to Edges

« Edges to Edges » is a prospective metropolitan strategy that anticipates the future rising water level in the metropolis of Nantes-Saint-Nazaire.  The strategy is materialized into six pilot projects, representing the diversity of the landscapes in the region.

The proposed territorial network relies on the territory’s geography and history. The landscape is characterized by the ever present influence of water: vegetation, crossings and movements are witnesses of its presence. As real interfaces, the edges in all their diversity become the privileged spaces for the project interventions.

In the short term, this evolutionary strategy proposes various actions for prefiguration that activate the edges. In the long term, a renewed metropolitan dynamic is presented.

RENNES / Valley of the downstream Vilaine River

RENNES  / Valley of the downstream Vilaine River

This project is founded on analysis of the entire valley territory of 25 km of river banks. The territory is fragmented and lacking identity: the river and its banks have the strong image and the potential to create common ground by reinvigorating the link between the Vilaine River and its countryside.
The park of the Vilaine reworks the composition of the territory and brings together its various components, specifically through the creation of direct links between the two banks. The idea is to associate diverse and qualitative lifestyles with many activities, by creating a neighbourhood park to enhance the quality of life of local inhabitants.
The park is structured around two itineraries/routes, which become real energy lines articulating the amenities of the territory. At the crossing of the two lines, places of intensity with activity programming are introduced.

BORDEAUX / 55 000 ha for Nature

BORDEAUX / 55 000 ha for Nature

The territorial study «55000 ha for nature» is an interrogation concerning the role of nature within the metropolitan development of Bordeaux. This problematic is primarily present and visible where urban extensions are producing new and indefinite interfaces between the city and the «non-city». These spaces represent an opportunity for urban growth at the same time as an intensification of nature within the urban fabric.

These interfaces are the edges where urban and rural assets, traditionally secluded and separate, are intermingling, particularly concerning agriculture, the cultivable land and the viability of the agricultural exploitations at the city’s edges. The study has led us to associate urban and rural landscape elements together to induce a maximal complementarity.

Five large categories of edge have been defined: forest edges, water edges, agricultural edges, park edges and infrastructural edges. These interfaces concentrate the important issues for tomorrow. If treated as priority zones for development projects, they could lead to innovations in urban thinking related to nature. On several sites within the boundary of Bordeaux, this approach has been applied and investigated in depth and in interaction with different stakeholders.

ANTIBES / Sophia Antipolis

ANTIBES / Sophia Antipolis

Sophia Antipolis, an innovative technology park created in the seventies and early eighties, incarnated the urban dream of working in a natural context. Its renewal calls for a veritable city in nature, imagining new methods of relations and exchange, of social and programmatical mixity, of renewed urban life with a new regard and respect for nature.

Agence Ter’s proposals respond to the labyrinthine reality of the territory, resulting from recent evolutions, with a network of slow transport routes which enhance perceptions of the territory.  As well as composing with the natural capital of the area, a parallel cultural and urban attractivity assures true sustainability, and is a crucial objective in the positioning of new nodes within the technopolis.

The masterplan incorporates these concerns to guide the technology park towards an exemplary renewal.  It is conceived as a “charter for nature as capital”, a reference document that can be communicated to politicians and developers, as well as the technical services in charge of the public spaces and forests of Sophia.

The charter accentuates the structuring role of the major natural landscape elements such as the valleys and hills, today under threat from the ever expanding technopolis. It seems evident that these elements should guide the ‘green and blue’ framework for structuring renewal of the park and providing for slow transport routes such as pedestrian and cycle ways.

An update of the 1977 landscape charter is a tool to examine, reinforce and reinterpret the founding concepts of the park to adapt to societal and landscape changes of the last 40 years. The “charter for nature as capital” firstly identifies the fundamental elements to respect and protect on the scale of the larger landscape (valleys, summits, non-constructible zones) and secondly identifies the multiple issues that confront the varied stakeholders involved in the renewal and development of Sophia Antipolis.

CHANGSHA / West Meixi Lake

CHANGSHA / West Meixi Lake

To respond to demographic needs whilst stimulating economic growth, the city of Changsha is developing a new urban extension at its periphery, based on ecological principles.  This sustainable quarter links the historical old town to isolated urban elements on the facing bank of the river (a university campus, an industrial area and a business district) and the concept of the masterplan is guided by the hydrological system and the topography. An east-west axis connects two landscape lakes. Perpendicular to this movement, north-south transversals link the mountains to the city. These secondary connections are based on the hydrological system, the open space network and the existing road system and the ecological functions of these elements (ecological continuities, water purification, heath island effect, biodiversity islands, etc.) are reinforced to create an ecological matrix on the scale of the city.