The Grande Place: intervention 3

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David Cameron, Robert Hartry, Han Han Xue

Nature in the City

Public parks have historically been antithetical to urban fabric. A single road often divides the concrete volumes of the city from the oasis of greenery. With park designers reducing the size and amount of tarmac roads within the park to the absolute minimum, this strategy made sense considering the polluted cities of the industrial revolution, and the inner-city vacuum and of the mid 20th century caused by suburban migration. The urban was best forgotten and hidden from the parks.

The 21st century however presents a contrast: urban areas are densifying and semi-green/semi-urban public spaces are in high demand. In a seeming coincidence, the existing site of the grande place is well poised to integrate this new condition. The site contains urban landscapes, car paths and buildings, as well as greenery, forests and footpaths. It is proposed the new park take advantage of this by simplifying the site into one urban-public area and one forest-public area, with curated thresholds in between.

A designed circulation system will act as a device to unify and orient the two areas: presenting visitors with the salient experience of transitioning from city, to urban-public, to forest-public, much like a journey from the city to the woods. The device will use a palitte of sensual moments, natural elements and sounds to evocate the transition, and provide a dynamic park responding to the contemporary condition of the city.

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