Parks and gardens

Toulouse. France

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NIEL Garden

Michele Orliac Rinuy & Miquel Batlle Pages / mICHÈLE&mIQUEL

FAD Awards finalist 2017  International
Description Technical file

The Jury’s appraisal: A project that makes it seem that everything is easy and evident. The difficulty of preserving a set of ruins under the park is what gives rise to an intelligent intervention where topography, vegetation, circulations, use of water, furniture and materiality blend together into a single intervention, as simple as it is unerring.
This is a garden on a city scale, of a size comparable to the two major gardens found in the centre of Toulouse: le Grand Rond and le Jardin Royal. The Niel garden is situated in the southeast of the city, at a point of articulation between two districts, Empalot and Saint Agne, and seeks to be a key piece in the pedestrian communications system between the two, La Garonne and the Canal du Midi.
The garden occupies the old main courtyard of the Niel Barracks, a great rectangular plane measuring 220x95m, arranged in the classical form based on a main axis, to the south presided over by the Chief of Staff building and closed off to the north by the two entrance pavilions.
The conception of the garden speaks of the history of this place, which is closely tied to its geography. Its raised configuration, above the plane of the river Garonne, points out this place as a strategic spot throughout its history. The archaeological excavations have thrown up evidence of the traces of a prehistoric burial place, an artisans’ square, a military city and a place for festive congregations from Roman times. Owing to the presence of these archaeological remains –particularly Roman ones—no excavation and therefore no plantings were authorised.
The new garden proposes the remembrance of the promontory’s configuration, suggesting the archaeological site and enhancing the military monuments and their particular spatial geometry. To achieve this it was proposed to configure a raised relief to create a new undulating topography, like a veil thrown over the site and its treasures. This new relief, built thanks to the earth taken from adjacent excavations, allows trees and vegetation to be planted without making an impact on the subsoil or transforming it.
From the entrance pavilions, an undulating movement sets out gently and gathers strength as it advances to a height of 6m, then falls to form an open-air amphitheatre that sinks into a fine mirror of water situated in front of the Chief of Staff building.
Thanks to this topography, the garden develops over a series of varied places, landscapes and ambiences: hills, forests, paths, tree groves, esplanades and playgrounds for children, with slides that follow the slopes. On the south side, a vegetation- covered pergola creates cool and shaded spots for sitting and contemplation while creating a green plinth along the length of the new buildings.

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Localización Location: Toulouse. France. Autores Authors: Michele Orliac Rinuy & Miquel Batlle Pages, arquitectos. / mICHÈLE&mIQUEL. Arquitecto colaborador Collaborating Architect: Alberto Hernández Medina. Dirección del proyecto Project management: Michele Orliac Rinuy & Miquel Batlle Pages. Dirección de la obra Site management: Michele Orliac Rinuy & Miquel Batlle Pages. Estructuras Structures: BOMA, S.L., Robert Brufau & Associats - Architecte et Structures. Instalaciones Installations: SATEC - BET Infrastructures, fluides, économie de la construction. Vegetación Vegetation: Teresa Galí - Arquitectura Agronomia S.L.P. Promotor Developer: Ville de Toulouse. Redacción proyecto Project Draft: 2011. Ejecución Execution: 2014 – 2016. Superficie construida Built area: 20.200m2 (parque), 40.800m2 (plaza, calle, entorno). Fotografía Photography: mICHÈLE&mIQUEL.
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Pavimento de ladrillo: Flexbrick
Batlle, Miquel y Orliac, Michele