NANTES / Banks of the Loire – Petite Hollande

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.

SHANGHAI / Park of the Cement Factory

SHANGHAI / Park of the Cement Factory

The 12ha Park of the Cement Factory creates a new horizon along the river bank of the Huangpu. This park is one part of the large transformation of the old industrial river banks in Pudong into public spaces and open parks with space for pedestrians, cyclists and sports activities along 22km of riverfront.

On the side of the city, the ground is lifted to create a large linear hill-scape. The soft slope invites inhabitants of the future neighborhoods to take in open views of river’s landscape and at the same time offers a forested retreat along the boulevard. At its highest point, the hill descends steeply like a cliff towards the river. A panoramic route along the ridge invites the contemplation of the impressive landscapes of the Huangpu River and appreciation of the opposite bank from a new point of view. Under the cliff, several functions and restaurants are incorporated into the slope. The softening of the slope allows for the integration of a large playground and an amphitheater with a view over the park. On the side of the river, beyond the cliff, a grand promenade obscures the presence of the floodwall and allows for new panoramic views towards the banks. At times paths approach the water and at others the park provides some distance, allowing for large planted areas or natural river edges. At the heart of the park, a large open square links the neighborhoods and the banks of the river while hosting a market hall, concert venue and a large lawn for open-air activities. From the lawn, an impressive panoramic view of the other bank invites to appreciate the sunset and evening concerts.

SHANGHAI / Lujiazui

SHANGHAI / Lujiazui

Within the framework of the design of 22km of public spaces along the river bank of the Huangpu River in Shanghai, Agence Ter has also been selected to lead the design of the public spaces of Lujiazui including 2.5km of river banks at the foot of the symbolic television tower “Pearl of the East” in the financial and commercial center of Lujiazui. By transforming the currently inaccessible and discontinuous banks into a metropolitan public space, the neighborhood is once again linked to the river and provides exceptional views towards the historic Bund. With five structuring principles, the project proposes to change the relationship between the city and its river:

  • Accessibility: extending the avenues to the riverbank, creating urban squares and multiplying access points to the banks.
  • Opening: allowing new perspectives towards the river landscapes, bringing a new scale of vegetation to the bank.
  • Nature: creating the new Bund for Shanghai, reflecting its time, ecology, and quality of natural spaces by creating floodable gardens and new ecosystems.
  • Programming: extending urban activities to riverbank and allowing for the development of new life along the water’s edge by creating numerous open spaces, grass fields or squares.
  • Continuity: assuring the continuity of the bank through the creation of a pedestrian discovery track, a jogging track and a cycling track, that are directly along the 22km of the Pudong riverbank.

ASNIERES-SUR-SEINE / Business Park Development

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.

LE VESINET / Eco-neighbourhood of Parc Princesse

LE VESINET / Eco-neighbourhood of Parc Princesse (455 housing units, 600 m² commercial units, a retirement home)

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.

GENEVA / The Lakes Neighbourhood

GENEVA / The Lakes Neighbourhood

The project for the future Lakes Neighborhood was developed with the desire to offer the city a new ensemble of public spaces, boulevards, pedestrian areas, squares, parks that will play a central role in the articulation of the metropolitan landscape structure of Geneva. This ensemble of public spaces redefines an urban fabric previously shaped by an automobile-oriented system of roads. The project also proposes grounding the identity of these public spaces by solving long-standing mobility issues, developing public transport strategies and integrating a new slow-transport network. The market square, the lake square and the pine wood will become places for social gathering that contribute to the attractiveness and quality of the new neighborhood.

At the interface between the valley of Nant d’Avancher and the lake of Tritons, the public spaces of the neighborhood become stepping stones within the major ecological corridor between the Rhône and the plateau. In terms of sustainable development, the ambition is to translate and enrich a performative urban ecosystem with site-appropriate techniques. The permeability of the soil and alternative methods for rainwater management allow for a fertile ground layer on the scale of the entire site. On this foundation, layers of planting create a spatial hierarchy from the ground plane to the rooftops, in dialogue with the height of the different buildings. This proactive approach to relating built and planted environment is used at the different scales throughout the project.

UCKANGE / Park of the blast furnace ‘U4’

UCKANGE / Park of the blast furnace ‘U4’

Situated between Metz and Luxemburg in Lorraine, the town of Uckange is located in a region marked by a strong industrial and mining history. Ever since metalworking activities ceased at the start of the 90s, the ‘U4’ blast furnace has dominated a 14ha industrial brownfield site and its annexed buildings.

Following the 2006 realization of the “Garden of the Traces” , of exhibitions by Mecilor and of  the light artwork “All the suns”,  the EPFL Lorraine has decided to open the site to the public, and to bring new life by integrating new services and activities. The design mission for the Park of the Blast Furnace U4 comprises a masterplan of the site as well as the execution of the public spaces.

The project proposal starts with the rhythm of parcels of 7m x 35m, which form a frame for any possible future project (construction, parking, phytoremediation garden, open parcel, etc.). Materialized by the introduction of more than 500 crosses and poles, these parcels are traversed by a central corridor, a promenade through the site, its industrial scenography and its changing character. The corridor becomes the spine of the public spaces that reveal the traces of the industrial activities of the past, for example in its use of existing site materials, and the conservation of old coatings and rails, etc.

SOISSONS / Banks of the Aisne River

SOISSONS / Banks of the Aisne River

From the start of the study, the project team observed a sleeping territory.  The town of Soissons has turned its back on the Aisne and few if any activities are related to the water. The wide northern banks within the town centre are abandoned urban grass fields, lacking in biodiversity. On the southern bank there are no continuous pedestrian pathways.

The project aims to reveal the landscape qualities and make Soissons attractive again by:

  • Bringing Soissons closer to the River Aisne
  • Reconciling the city and the river
  • Reactivating historic links
  • Expanding nature within the city

The overall design strategy is articulated through three large geographical sequences that are complementary and interlinked by three overarching themes: “The Aisne as recreation” in the North, “The urban River” in the historic city centre and “The inhabited Aisne Valley” with the emergence of a new ecological neighbourhood.

BARCELONA / Plaça de les Glories “CANOPIA URBANA”


Situated at the intersection of the large axes of Barcelona  (Gran Vià, Diagonal and Meridiana) that were introduced by Idelfons Cerdà, the Plaza of the Catalan Glory was the subject of an international competition, won by Agence Ter. This winning project, named the Urban Canopy (Canopia Urbana) is based on a strategy with three main objectives:

Primarily, developing an urban eco-system that hybridizes city and nature. Secondly, creating a synergic relationship between the underground, the city-ground and the horizons of the metropolis. This vertical relationship regards natural systems as well as human experience.  Finally, offering a space that is able to host both the activities that are linked to an urban square as well as those found in a park.

Glòries, because of its location on the crossing of the main axes of Cerdà, because of its dimensions (around 15ha), and because of its status of an urban space calling for a more significant metropolitan role, is the unique opportunity to develop this strategy.

1 – The first action is to optimize the continuous character of the ground. Without any interruption with the surrounding neighbourhoods, this continuous ground unfolds itself like an open plan that is practically horizontal, authorizing all transits,capable of a maximum versatility.

2 – The second action is to re-establish the natural exchanges between the skyline and the underground, by fertilizing and de-mineralizing the surface, currently mainly impermeable and sterile. This action allows for hydraulic and biological exchanges, vertical as well as horizontal, which are the fundamental conditions for a living space to emerge, bio-diverse and able to act as a strong climatic regulator.

3 – The third action proposes a canopy of vegetation. Within the thickness of the « vélum construit » of Barcelona defined by Cerdà (28m), this canopy articulates the green and civic axes of East-Barcelona (Sagrera-ciutadella, Carretera de ribes-Clot, Rec comtal and Diagonal).  With its generous dimensions, the ‘Urban Canopy’ forms strong ecological connections and aids climate regulation.

4 – The fourth action is that of intensification, expressed by a constellation of nodes that punctuate the space of the park. Some ‘vertical nodes’ act as intensifiers of biodiversity and highlight the direct connection with the canopy, others are links between the infrastructural underground and the urban ground  (jardi d’immersio – sortidas metro) or the ground and the metropolitan skyline (node skywalker) and finally ‘macro-nodes’ that host activities, facilities and specific functions, potentially enclosed.

Finally, the completion of the diagonal line as the major axis is the ultimate action of the project strategy.

LUXEMBURG / Parc Belval Süd

LUXEMBURG / Parc Belval Süd

The new district Belval is being developed on the former premises of the steel mill near Esch-sur-Alzette. Scheduled to be completed in 2016 it will contain living and working quarters, a university campus, a shopping center and a concert house. Parc Belval Sud lies in the center of this growing area. It is subdivided into the Jardin du Delta and the higher Plateau du Parc, which consists of the Jardin canal, the Bande active, the Jardin des origines and Lac Belval with its terrace and restaurant. The two park levels meet at the distinctive slope, preserved in its original form as a topographical relict. One of the major intentions for the plan is to refer to the history of the site. Consequently soil, vegetation and the visibility of the chimneys – witnesses to the site’s industrial history – are taken into careful consideration. Linking the park to the evolving district and developing a complex drainage system for the almost water-impermeable ground require extensive deliberation. The interaction of ecological, hydrological and creative aspects, result in a park with a high amenity value.