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- Intermediate Natures: The Landscapes of Michel Desvigne
- Intermediate Natures
Urban space can no more be perceived as a sterile, architectonic, form — orientated entity apart from the city landscape.
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It is not encountered as a source of remedy and a chance for escape that the polluted, post — industrial city must passively preserve for the modern urban dweller. On the contrary, landscape urbanism involves an active participation of landscape as the basic planning tool in each scale of urban space. It suggest a shift from the object, as an architectural product and the building block of urban space, to the field, expressed through landscape, as the structuring medium of the contemporary city.
The anachronistic approach of a top — down planning that focus on a definite rigid and as a result dysfunctional final form gives its place to a bottom — up conception of urban landscape that emphasizes not on the final result but on an open — end process able to respond to the constantly changing city needs [2,3]. The meaning of the term field incorporates a flexible planning model that its analysis into a series of interacting layers permits the treatment of space as a whole while at the same time reveals the inherent qualities of its components.
Such properties as flexibility and adjustability are directly connected to the nature of landscape that supporters of landscape urbanism envisage; a continuous field working as an infrastructure for urban space instead of the recent, time-consuming and costly practices [2,3]. At a lot of points, they bear resemblance to the thoughts about landscape as they have been expressed by two of the most influential personalities in the scene of North America, Frederic Law Olmsted and Ian McHarg. The way that Olmsted treats his proposed parks in Boston, but also in Rochester and Buffalo later on, as urban sequences puts structure and planning at first sight leaving a complementary role for design .
It is true that landscape urbanism rejects the clear distinction between nature and the city accented by McHarg at his attempt to rescue the remaining parts of the first from the industrialization and uncontrolled growth of the second in the 60s and 70s. This might have always seemed to be the objective in the case of landscape architecture but tended to be forgotten in the discipline of urban planning the last decades. The environmental dimension emphasized by the McHargian logic is enriched by a profound social orientation in the planning and design of the new urban landscape.
Together they ensure its treatment as a unified whole of natural and human-made elements. According to distinguished personalities of the French landscape architecture scene, such as Jacque Simon and Michel Corajoud, landscape is no more considered the empty remaining space in the growing process of the city, the void in-between the built space. Its reading constitutes an endeavor to decipher its time, its formation or production, its evolution or neglect, the attitudes to and uses of the space, the ambience as a whole.
Through such an understanding, the process of planning the landscape forms an attempt to enhance it rather than simply record it, to recreate it than just preserve it and consciously transform it projecting a new image upon space as a whole that at the same time reveals and promotes its particularity [5,6]. The inhabitant of urban space opens and closes this complex process as the generator and the final receiver of its outcome, as the one who has known and experienced the landscape and the one who is going to use it and estimate it, as the one who finally perceives it.
This triple approach, referred by Maria Ananiadou — Tzimopoulou, landscape architect ENSP, as socio- ecological and perceptional , is evident of the European way of thinking in the case of urban landscape architecture and its evolution ever since. On the contrary its first sperms and its ongoing evolution can be witnessed in a series of urban landscape architecture interventions dating back from the s up until today . In the course of modern European landscape architecture the example of the French new town Le Vaudreuil is groundbreaking in the way that landscape had been used as the background for the development of urban space .
Confronted with the paradox of no urban precedence in the landscape of the site, the team adopted the basic hypothesis that the future new town could never compete with the strong features and structure of the surrounding landscape in a way of generating a new landscape for the whole area.
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As a result their preliminary objective was to Figure 2. The process followed involved the analysis of the landscape in terms of different units that were grouped into large-scale ensembles, according to their common features, indicating on their turn future land use systems. For example one of the dominant landscape elements, an alluvial plane along a large meander of the river was the site of sand and gravel quarrying for the construction of the town.
The excavation area of ha was turned into artificial lakes transforming the plain into a recreational area for the future town. In a same way other pre-existing landscape elements determined the network of public spaces of the town and the areas guarded for future expansions or industrial installation. The way that landscape and town were blended together forming a continuous entity in the case of Le Vaudreuil had been an attempt worthy of reference as far as the participation of landscape architecture in the planning of urban space of that time is concerned.
A quite similar approach was adopted by Michel Desvigne , another French landscape architect, in a recent proposition in for the landscape of the small French city of Issoudun, south of Orleans. The intervention deals with the suburban area of the city and its perspectives of expansion. Figure 3. Plan for Issoudun landscape — Michel Desvigne, , the three phases of development and the final masterplan The area of intervention is the typical suburban landscape of most contemporary cities, characterized by the side effects of urban sprawl, the loss of identity and the problematic relation between built and nature.
However this concentrical structure is no more legible in the contemporary landscape of Issoudun due to successive land consolidations. The method proposed in this case is a truly simple one. The preemption of a few meters along the borderline of the parcels and the plantation of trees will gradually activate a network of routes and small public spaces that will work as the backbone for the future expansion of the city articulating its future parks, institutions and public facilities as soon as the suburbs become denser.
As it is obvious the participation of the local municipality plays a vital role for the realization of a land structure at the scale of the city as a whole.
Alongside the activation of such a structure will give the city the potential to reconnect to the streams that traverse the urban tissue. Claiming the open space of the properties in contact with the stream banks, which already belong to the local authorities, will ensure the formation of a metropolitan green network for the citizens of Issoudun.
The intention of such an intervention is not to restore a lost reality for the city through the creation of a green ring that will distinguish Issoudun from the countryside and restrict its future expansion. The intention is to heal the distorted relation between the city and its landscape.
Through the decoding and reformulation of the identity of the suburban landscape of Issoudun, what is initially nothing more than a trace in the landscape will eventually evolve into a precedent for future planning decisions and a commitment for development scenarios  Figure 3. As it is clearly demonstrated by the previous examples landscape and urban space are terms mutually related in the European scene and landscape architecture traces an already long-lasting course in the decision-making process for the European city.
Greek practice, as part of the European reality, is obliged to adopt a similar behavior concerning the basis that the contemporary Greek city is planned upon. Although the examples available are quite a few a considerable attempt in such a direction is made through the proposition by ORTH in cooperation with Aristotle University for a plan of a green network for the city of Thessaloniki . Figure 4. Thessaloniki — plan for a green network, ORTH — Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, As in the examples presented above, the structure of the urban landscape plays a major role in this case too.
These two basic landscape elements along with the tissue of the historical center and the EXPO site attached to it as well as the eastern and western entrance of the city form a green network that intends to reconnect the citizens of Thessaloniki to its landscape and reestablish its legibility Figure 4. However under a more critical look it is obvious that the two terms have more similarities than differences.
All taken into consideration, it is not a matter of choice of the most efficient term between the two but rather a matter of a dialectic coexistence. Landscape urbanism provides landscape architecture with a regenerated vision and an up-to-date verbal construct that attempts to invert once again the focus of common interest from private to public, while landscape architecture is called to play a key role in the ideas promoted by landscape urbanism as the most suitable to bring together a range of disciplines in the common field of urban space.
Intermediate Natures: The Landscapes of Michel Desvigne
It is no odd that the majority of landscape urbanism theorists and supporters are distinguished landscape architects. At the same time landscape architecture and landscape urbanism seem to share a common institutional background. Above and following page: Grids; The context of Versailles and Saint-Cyr provides dimensions embedded within the urban fabric that can be applied to the site. The new transit stop serves as a node of urban development that transforms the region.
Master plan, axonometric view: Each layer, whether infrastructure, vegetation, or architecture, represents an important organizational element on the site. The rational strength of the design and organization of the Gardens of Versailles provided an early foundation for organizing the city of Versailles. The clear design language and the rich cultural practices of fruit and vegetable production serve as key elements in my redesign of the Pion barracks.
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In my initial reading of the site, I gravitated toward numerous overlapping local agrarian narratives. These varying spatial, temporal, and social scales of food production ground the conceptual framing for the new Pion barracks design. The new barracks are positioned as a hinge that joins these cultures through programmed use on-site from all four social groups, as well as new transit connections via train and major bicycle and pedestrian routes.
The bicycle network on the eastern promenade and train line on the western spine activate the central strip of productive farms and gardens, and draw people through this space to share ideas and build a community that bridges these cultural narratives. Both are used as urban formal devices to stabilize the chaotic remnants of the military base. Although the two prominent geometries in the design are rigid, the productive vegetation and human activity on site is in constant flux throughout the seasons.
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The sunken productive courtyards share a nine-meter structure and viewing platform on the western edge. The commuter rail line is sunken into the eastern side of these courtyard spaces and provides an additional cyclic layer to temporal occupation. The new Pion barracks will be a theater of daily agrarian and urban performance that choreographs.
Courtney Goode Illustrative plan view in fall. The nested scales and proportions of the Orangerie at Versailles are ideal for mediating between intimate, urban, and agricultural scales. Bottom: Oblique view facing north from the high-point lookout hill in foreground, with a view of the entire site. Courtney Goode CNC-milled white foam model of the ground-level design moves, with urban fabric and infrastructure for context. The bridge is surrounded by four gardens—water, rose, tulip, and sakura—each corresponding to one of four human senses auditory, olfactory, visual, and gustatory. The proposal comprehensively rethinks and balances these different needs and desires, both aesthetically and functionally, into this new car park of Versailles set within a contemporary garden.
On the other side of the barracks is the presently underdeveloped city of Saint-Cyr. This proposal creates a new front gate for Versailles by situating a car park on the site, within a contemporary garden. The composition of the new garden respects the cultural heritage of the formal French garden by corresponding to the existing context grid and axis.
But instead of rigidly following the model, it includes one off-grid element—an iconic bridge. The market is supported by a farm with additional research and educational facilities organized along a central promenade that leads pedestrians through successive layers and stages of trade and cultivation. The structures supporting this program occupy clearings within a formal woodland. Following spread: Detail plan of the campus courtyard housing research facilities, preparatory spaces, and display greenhouses for educational and recreational use. A continuous elevated public bridge is introduced to connect public programs and establish the hierarchy of private and public access.
Sloping earthwork facing different directions creates spaces with individual identities and varied orientations, accessibility, and viewsheds. Forest and vegetation strengthen this sloping perspective as a mass volume. The main circulation follows the lower terrain along the irrigation waterway. Public gardens are located at the thresholds of sloping transition zones, offering a rich spatial experience. This project seeks to reinterpret the historical sloping earthwork as a contemporary frame for new programs.
Versailles is well known for its dramatic earthwork that provided a spectacular perspective while representing territorial power. In addition, two other important historic elements coordinate with the topography: the historical trace and the forest. The site is proposed as an opportunity to be an extension of the INRA campus. INRA has multiple branch campuses and offices around the country, though they are private, with limited access to the public. The U-shaped building, as a new typology for open labs, sits on sloping earthwork to strengthen the topography and the view. Even though the site abuts the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, with its immense gardens and open space, formal and attractive to tourists, this does not provide for freedom of use and expression.