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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Jardins de l’Arche in Paris, France by AWP

December 6th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: AWP

AWP, Office for Territorial Reconfiguration (Marc Armengaud, Matthias Armengaud, Alessandra Cianchetta), was named in July the general contractor for the landscaping of the public spaces and follies situated at the foot of the Grande Arche. The site, located near the future Arena 92 in the Jardins de l’Arche neighborhood, serves as a space for genuine interchange between La Défense and Seine-Arche. The urbanists at AWP are equally responsible for a guide plan for Defacto that will enhance the urban space of La Défense’s business district.

Rendering (Images Courtesy AWP, Sbda)

  • Architect: AWP
  • Name of Project: Jardins de l’Arche
  • Location: La Défense, Paris, France
  • Net floor area: 71 044 m2
  • Type of project: public realm and follies
  • Images: © AWP, Sbda and Gregori Civera

Perspective (Images Courtesy AWP, Sbda)

  • Planned: 2011
  • Client: EPADESA
  • Project responsible: Alessandra Cianchetta, Matthias Armengaud
  • Team AWP: Marc Armengaud, Matthias Armengaud, Alessandra Cianchetta, Irene Bargués, Juan Garrido, Miguel La Parra Knapman
  • Engineering / QS: GINGER
  • Lighting: 8’ 18’
  • Environmental : AEU
  • Competition: 2011 / preliminary studies ongoing
  • Delivery : 2014

Perspective (Images Courtesy AWP, Sbda)

The project site is of a great spatial complexity. Underground are the A14 route, metro line 1 and the RER A, while, above ground, the exisiting Jardins de l’Arche landscape project and the Jetty occupy the space. It should be able to serve the upcoming urban planning changes to the neighborhood: Terrasses de Nanterre, the Arena 92 stadium, residences and hotels.

Each element of the Jardins de l’Arche project, which covers approximately 30,000 m2 and includes a ramp nearly 600 m long, contributes to an improved urban experience. The continuous and fluid ramp allows for a more fluid space, while the extensive garden encourages a re-thinking of the existing landscape as a “sanctuary” to be protected. The new follies and multipurpose spaces and small scale buildings, meanwhile, increase and “activate” the possible uses of the site. The principal objective is to create an architectural, urban and landscape continuity between the newly developed spaces and the existing urban spaces.

Perspective (Images Courtesy AWP, Sbda)

Central to the project are the following goals: recreate an exceptional urban existence on a neglected site between the Terrasses of Seine-Arche and La Défense; create an attractive and lively space on the scale of the Parisian metropolis; achieve an urban culture and communication between La Défense and the surrounding neighborhoods; reinforce the ties between the area and the heart of the city by rendering the space more fluid; reveal and give new value to the buildings’ architecture in a harmonious urban landscape.

This is one of the Grand Paris’s major public urban spaces; it will create a link between two sections of the Seine by asserting its presence at the mid-point. This idea takes priority over all of the private and local constraints of the space, and perhaps even influence the way those constraints are addressed. We’ve approached the site by feeling it out in its nocturnal aspect, searching for a new intensity of landscape to take on the role of a key image for the Grand Paris. We approach this project with the ambition one would have for a “place de l’Opéra”: Arena 92 is a new type of concert hall.

Perspective (Images Courtesy AWP, Sbda)

This site is nonetheless full of constraints, by its exiguity, by the presence almost onsite of two signed works that constitute French heritage (Gilles Clément, Paul Chemetoff & Marc Mimram) , and by the sheer maximum expected size of crowds. A part of the design then may be “virtual,” as something luminous, sensitive, interactive, temporary… Our vision at this stage of the process consists in developing, as the major point, spatial continuity with as few separate elements as possible (3): a large, contemporary plaza; flux zones that highlight the Jetty and the Jardin de l’Arche ; and a common vocabulary repeated in different situations, such as a stylistic process that will ensure accessibility, or spatial and temporal modularity (kiosks, follies). This spatial continuity is the provison for the harmonious and stimulating integration of numerous small urban objects, for which the project calls.

Site (Images Courtesy EPADESA, photographer Alex S. MacLean)

BACKGROUND INFORMATION /The Jardins de l’Arche Neighborhood

As a veritable link between La Défense and Seine-Arche, the Jardins de l’Arche are situated at the point where multiple neighborhoods meet: La Défense to the east, Les Groues and the Faubourg de l’Arche to the north, the park André Malraux to the south and, to the west, the Terrasses that extend Paris’s historic axis to the Seine. On a site that covers eight hectares, this new neighborhood’s development benefits from the construction of Arena 92, a multipurpose stadium, so as to become a center of urban life that combines the hospitality industry, residences and ground floor spaces intended for leisure activities and urban services.

Aerial View

The Établissement public d’aménagement de La Défense Seine Arche (EPADESA, Public Establishment in Charge of the Development of La Défense Seine Arche) heads the studies and implementation of one of the major urban projects of the Parisian West. The 564 hectare perimeter of the operation d’intérêt national (OIN, national interest operation) includes the cities of Courbevoie, Garenne-Colombes, Nanterre and Puteaux. The presence of the premier European business district, also the object of a plan de renouveau and of the Seine Arche recomposition and development project, accounts for this national interest. The latter project, which is structured around 20 terraces that will extend the historic axis, is already under way. This area is intended to host future transportation infrastructures: Grand Paris Express, LGV train station for the Normandy lines and the continuation of Eole to the west.

Aerial View

AWP agence de reconfiguration territorial

AWP is an award winning interdisciplinary office for territorial reconfiguration and design. The practice was established in Paris in 2003 – since then its partners Marc Armengaud, Matthias Armengaud and Alessandra Cianchetta have been working on a wide variety of programmes : architecture, landscape design, strategic planning and urbanism ranging from major large scale public projects to temporary installations both in France and internationally. The practice was awarded the French Ministry of Culture’s Prize for Best Young Architects in 2006, and the French Ministry of Transport, Housing and Ecology’s PJU urban planning award 2010.

Alessandra Cianchetta (Images Courtesy Gregori Civera)

Relevant projects include the Lantern pavilion in Sandnes, Norway, nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award in 2009, the masterplanning of public spaces and mobility for the 230ha Praille-Acacias-Vernets area, Geneva, the construction of the Evry wastewater treatment plant, France, the sculpture park for the LAM – Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art of Lille Metropole, France, the public realm redesign of Capodichino airport and the Ferro-Gomma Hub multimodal park in Naples, Italy (with RSH-P). AWP also curates and designs exhibitions for major cultural institutions and write regularly books and essays. The three partners have exhibited their work and lectured at many architectural venues in Paris, London, Milan, Rome, Barcelona, Beijing, Toronto, Belgrade, Tianjin, Winnipeg, Geneva, Copenhagen, Oslo, Trondheim, Tirana, Lausanne, Montréal, New York and many others places.

AWP has won the competition to deliver a masterplan plan for the development of all urban spaces in the La Défense central business district, Paris.


AWP (Images Courtesy Gregori Civera)

Marc Armengaud (Images Courtesy Gregori Civera)

Matthias Armengaud (Images Courtesy Gregori Civera)

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Category: Public Landscapes

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