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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

AULNAY / PSA

AULNAY / PSA

The PSA site functions today as an autonomous and enclosed entity of 180 ha and is the largest area of available constructible land in the Nord East quarter of the metropolis. One of the challenges of redeveloping the site is to open it up in order to create synergies with the surrounding environment, as the site is surrounded on all sides by important traffic corridors.  A thorough reflection has been carried out on the specific urban form as well as the programming for each of its three edges. Innovative urban and programming strategies are proposed as a response to the diversity and complexity of the territory.

The urban project meets the new demands for flexibility, transversality and hyper-connectivity. Beyond recomposing the site itself, the project aims to improve the urban quality of the territory. An island no longer, the site hosts a diversity of activities and becomes a real urban neighbourhood.  As the project needs to be flexible in the long term, to leave open possibilities for future development, an adaptable, hybrid and resilient space is created. It is structured around guiding lines which provide a non- constraining framework: the Linear Park that creates a continuing band with Sausset and Robert Ballanger Parks; the mobility scheme integrating all interchanges between Aulnay, Gonesses and the West-Paris region ; and the hubs that accommodate cable car transport. These elements form the fixed structure of the project and guarantee its coherence in the long term.

BARCELONA / Plaça de les Glories “CANOPIA URBANA”

BARCELONA / PLAÇA DE LES GLORIES

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.

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.