NANTES / Banks of the Loire – Petite Hollande
Centuries of political, literary, artistic, scientific and economic history have shaped the incredible heritage of traveling in Nantes. Infill of the tributaries of the Loire River has contributed to the erasure of the river in the city center, yet its scale and footprint remain legible. This project’s ambition is to re-establish contact between the city and its river, to rediscover the river’s scale and its nature, to re-appropriate the riverbanks with various activities, sensations and landscapes. The masterplan will reveal the rich variety of identities that are characteristic of the Loire and expressed in the city of Nantes. First, a pastoral and cultivated Loire, inspired by the surrounding countryside will enhance the banks of the ancient Gloriette Island. Second, the littoral Loire as a port river as it becomes an estuary further downstream is expressed by the quays and accompanied by maritime gardens and pavilions, small architectural objects that will occupy these quays as industrial structures once did.
At the confluence of these imaginaries and landscapes, two metropolitan public spaces consolidate and express the relationship of Nantes and its river. La Petite Hollande is a large metropolitan park-square that slowly opens out towards the water allowing the city and the Loire to greet each other. The canal Saint-Felix becomes a place of celebration and sport that defines the Southern gate of the metropolis.
NANTERRE / Les Groues neighborhood
The urban renewal project Les Groues aims to transform an industrial, polluted site into a new and attractive neighborhood. The site takes advantage of the proximity of the future station Nanterre La Folie, a line served by the RER E and line 15 of the Greater Paris Express network.
The degraded site conditions and the desire to create a neighborhood where well-being, biodiversity and landscape form an essential part of its identity demanded a new methodology and presented a unique solution: the vertical ecosystem. This concept is translated into the “sources of life”, planted groves between 10 to 15m wide and of varying densities that allow for an ecological intensification in all layers between the subsurface and the sky, creating biodiversity and ecological connectivity with the logic of stepping-stones.
The diverse environments created engender various atmospheres and thus accommodate a range of social and ecological functions. The density of the vegetation determines whether one can linger and inhabit the space while buffering the intensity of urban life by reconnecting it to nature.
In this project, nature in the city becomes a real source of biodiversity and of ecosystem function such as flood protection, heat island reduction, bioclimatic regulation, ecological corridors, food production, all critical for climate change resilience.
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.
AMIENS / The three worlds
Amiens benefits from an exceptional context between city and nature. On the one hand there is the renewed city centre, the cathedral and the Perret Tower as recognizable points from a distance, the vibrant neighbourhood of Saint-Leu, etc. On the other hand, there are many beautiful urban parks, the Somme, the floating gardens and the nearby countryside.
The new neighbourhood of The Valley is interacting with both conditions, as it has a direct proximity to the station and to the city center, but is at the same time very closely related to the Somme River. The project recognizes and amplifies these qualities and conditions in order to attract young active inhabitants and families, to receive tourists, to house students and to develop the small industries related to the station.
The project aims to create the in-between: the hyphen between the two banks, between different heights and between mineral and natural. The diverse and innovative programming is complementary with the current offers and is respectful of history and the urban context.
The potential of each of the three sites is developed in coherence with its program and its direct context, in order to smoothen the transitions and to accommodate the intense city as well as the peaceful neighbourhood. The project aims to create a dynamic and sustainable tissue.
ASNIERES-SUR-SEINE / Business Park Development
Developed on a 16ha site with an extensive urban edge facing the Seine River, the project site of the Business Park development is connected by the RER train station Les Grésillons which will soon be linked to the Greater Paris Express. An eco-neighborhood is planned here on the foundation of an urban design concept developed Christian Devillers and now led by Agence Ter as urban and landscape designers.
Layers of urban and landscape spaces are the founding concepts for public space design and their relation to the built clusters. Three major layers are imagined:
- The “resilient” layer: the unified and porous soil in direct contact with the river. This layer uses the proximity of water to fertilize the soil (techniques includes continuous water storage along the roads and the introduction of swales and reservoirs in the park).
- The “productive” layers”: represented by the intermediary terraces nestled on various elevations and supporting the possibility of urban agriculture
- The “biodiversity” layer that reinforces the aesthetic and function of the forested belvederes. This new skyline creates ecological stepping stones to support migrating bird species.
Here, public space, seen as performing a range of functions, plays a key role in the evolution of the overall image of this mixed-use quarter, itself a strategic site within a transforming territory.
KREMLIN-BICÊTRE / Urban park
The park-square is situated in the heart of Kremlin-Bicêtre and is part of a green necklace that has been established on the larger scale. It brings an open and public breathing space to the inhabitants at the intersection of the different flows of the city: metro, hospital, departemental roads, schools, residential areas.
The existing system of the planted roads, the market square and the residual green spaces are requalified based on a game of topography that reconnects certain areas and allows for new possible uses. The appropriation of the spaces is encouraged by the multiplication of the usable surfaces and amenities: a large lawn for events and solar baths, urban furniture, a cultural kiosk with playground and a mineral urban plaza.
SACLAY / AgroParisTech campus
Integrated within the site of the Polytechnical School, the new building shared by AgroParisTech and the INRA is designed to become one of the flagship projects of the Saclay tech-plateau. As the campus becomes a hybrid between city and nature, this urban-architectural project is articulated though landscape design: landscape forms the foundation and identity of the plateau expressed as a re-definition of a 21st century campus. Thus, the garden becomes a central and unifying concept in the project.
The main principles of the design include:
- Biodiversity is expressed by ecological islands which can help shape social uses while developing reserves of vegetation density to provide climatic comfort and shade.
- A canopy, which becomes the guiding element for the landscape through a clear connection with the surroundings. This canopy is composed of local species specific to the plateau of Saclay and allows for ecological continuities to be established with the greater territory.
- A mosaic of atmospheres that is expressed by a variety of landscapes: a grandly scaled central garden alternates with more intimate spaces: gardens, terraces, basins, fields, etc. These places allow for a diversity of programs and uses.
CLERMONT-FERRAND / Marcombes Stadium
The architectural and landscape strategies for this new sports stadium complex are developed together in a close and harmonious way. The grandly-scaled entry square opens onto the “Triumphal Walkway” that amplifies and reveals the geometry inherited by the ancient velodrome. This walkway in terms reveals broad meadows illustrating the fundamental concept of the urban park upon first glance: a project anchored in the past, but turned towards the future. The armature of the walkway continues the double alignment of existing trees and alternates with new trees whose height is determined by the need for sunlight throughout the space.
The “Discovery Wood” is an existing plaza on the highest point of the site now restructured and enlarged to hold multiple playgrounds. Various vertical play elements are integrated and harmonize with the tree trunks and planted hills.
The “Terrace of the Puys” is the second-highest point on the site and includes an active rooftop above the ateliers and sports halls, a belvedere over the entire sports park as well as the larger metropolitan landscapes of Clermont-Ferrand.
LIBOURNE / Quays of the confluence
The quays of the city of Libourne, historically built as a infrastructural site for the wine trade has become little more than a large parking lot over time. Rethinking the future of these quays as an interface between city-nature was the subject of an initial competition and now of Agence Ter’s work.
The design team is working closely with the city of Libourne in its mission to commemorate the city’s architectural and fluvial heritage. The project of the quays, now in its final phase of construction, focuses on pedestrian and cyclist networks. A grand promenade links the river to the city center, designed to stimulate activities that recall the historic dynamics of the port. Alongside this promenade, a wide, planted allee invites pedestrians to continue their stroll towards the bridge of Fronsac.
Fundamental principles of the project include a continuous ground surface to ease wayfinding, clear sightlines towards the water, programming of the quays with urban activities (sports, festivities, green beach, boat rides, etc.) and the enhancement of the natural banks with wetland gardens. Restoration of the banks takes into account the tidal rhythms of the water with the design of a micro-topography and a diversified planting palette including wetland gardens, tree alles with dry meadows, inaccessible lawns, irrigated lawns, etc.
Thus the project proposes both new urban life on the river banks with welcoming public spaces while it stimulates a new urban nature connected to water. A coexistence between floodable areas and active program is developed.
LE VESINET / Eco-neighbourhood of Parc Princesse
The eco-neighbourhood of the Park Princesse is the last land development opportunity for the town of Le Vésinet, allowing the creation of a new residential neighbourhood and facilities. On this site, the imposing historical monument of Vésinet Hospital (imperial asylum inaugurated in 1875) becomes a central element for the future neighbourhood. The site is almost entirely planted with trees, giving the hospital an emblematic status at the heart of this garden city, designed and developed since the mid-19th century by the French landscape gardener Paul de Lavenne, Count of Choulot.
Our objective for the eco-neighbourhood of the Park Princesse is to successfully integrate new development into this in this constrained site. A housing typology is proposed which respects the founding concepts and design principles of the town, whilst meeting the objectives of urban densification. In accord with the ‘Vesinet Ideal ‘ of inhabiting nature, this typology seeks an alternative high quality model, where the characterizing principles of the typical Vésinet mansion inspire and inform collective residential buildings with visually permeable ground floors , and views from the upper storeys and inhabited roofs oriented towards the landscape .
By retaining the maximum of the remarkable trees and valorizing the existing woodlands and natural environments, the project reinforces the landscape structure. Buildings are positioned in the clearings of the woodland, where the soil is less fertile or on the site of former constructions. The project encourages stakeholder implication with customized consultation and a programme of neighbourhood study groups focusing on the public space/private space interfaces and a peaceful, low nuisance construction site. Finally, environmental goals are crucial, shown through a systemic and transversal approach of the different parameters of sustainable development.