To a large extent, the built universe has often been opposed to the vegetal. As for the green spaces, their composition, symbolic meaning and social functions have largely evolved all along the process of densification of our modern cities. Whether in naturalist paintings or in romantic gardens, most of our urban conceptions of the green areas display a clear distinction between two different worlds: buildings on one side, greenery on the other.
Today, more than half of the global population lives in cities -this number could reach two-third by 2050. The densification of the urban areas and their peripheral extensions bring deep changes in landscapes and lifestyles. The green spaces are thought of as major urban elements, maintaining a strong presence of nature in a manmade environment. They make it possible for dense cities to maintain a certain quality of life.
Seen as a vast living environment, the contemporary city could thus provide a fusion of both its usually separate components, buildings on one side, greenery on the other. The interaction of these overlapping, superimposed two elements can generate new urban intensities, in which the built environment could be designed, from the start, as a shelter for the people and a receptacle for the living environment. Apart from the environmental concern, we are interested in this connections as a system, for they allow to create conditions for easier social exchanges around nature and biodiversity. From our standpoint, it is a new project-making tool as well, which introduces an evolution in the conception of core architectural elements, such as roof or façade, generating a new form of expressivity through their additional functions.
Part of the ‘Reinvent Paris’ consultation (Réinventer Paris), the Ternes project covers the Paris ring road (le périphérique) and receives a joint programme. Designed as a dynamic city block, it invites to unprecedented ways of cohabitation. It is simultaneously a newly created ground (over the ring road), a botanical experience (urban agriculture) and a socio-educational project bringing together different groups or communities through their activities. The operation connects both sides of the périphérique, Paris and Neuilly, covering the ring road with a ‘landscape-bridge’. This self-supporting work includes housing and office buildings having lightweight and modifiable structures. This allows a natural reallocation of activities in the city, in agreement with the evolution of needs, programmes and uses. The green roofs are linked by three footbridges and receive vegetable gardens and a tea field, which will give birth to the first Parisian vintage tea (grand cru), transformed and sold on the spot. The horticultural school situated on the ground floor offers training to all the local residents, and especially to those who live in the block, more than likely to arrange and maintain the green terraces by themselves.