Agence Babylone: Charenton-le-Pont is one of the smallest municipalities in the Department of Val-de-Marne (1.85km2). It is located 7km east of Paris, in the inner suburbs. Home to around 30,000 inhabitants, it is one of the most densely populated municipalities in the inner suburbs. Situated along the banks of the Seine, the town is divided into two parts, which are separated by the RER D train line. The town was formed through the grouping of four villages and is distinguished by its numerous historical outlines and monuments. Charenton-le-Pont is linked with the capital by the rue de Paris, which is included in the scope of the project and one of the oldest roads in the municipality. The road is therefore both a historic feature and an integral part of the heritage of the town, but also plays a strategic role in terms of transport.
The Jules Noël park is a former royal property. The Antoine de Navarre pavilion is the oldest part of the Town Hall. With its stone and brickwork facade, it offers a magnificent setting for the developments in the new town centre area. Agence Babylone has brought together a group of ten professionals skilled in the areas of landscaping, urban planning and the environment. This group is divided into a number of teams, tackling urban issues that range from territory level right down to square level and working on operations such as Operations of National Interest (OIN), Joint Development Zones (ZAC), parks, public spaces or areas beside buildings, both for the purpose of studies and on behalf of the project manager.
The cross-sectoral perspective of Agence Babylone combines urban and landscaping issues to develop new active and sustainable synergies between the town and its natural environment. Agence Babylone has a sound awareness of environmental and ecological matters, which forms an integral part of the company’s project processes. It has therefore developed its own environmental management charter on the basis of the founding concept “Active Nature”.
The commission focuses on the regeneration of public spaces within the historical and commercial town centre of Charenton-le-Pont (town squares, roads, parks) with the aim of increasing pedestrian comfort, safety and quality whilst enhancing the attractiveness of the area.
– Opening the park onto the walkway
– Water feature & park entrance
– Creation of pedestrian and parking zones
– Separation of flows
– Creation of pedestrian zones & green spaces
The project focuses on the “spirit of the area”, with the characteristic colours of the facades shaping the development of the historic town centre of Charenton-le-Pont. A series of coloured strips picking up the hues of the facades leads to the Place de la Mairie, like a series of stepping stones. The “3 fountain walkway” is adorned with various water elements, most notably a water feature in the Place de la Mairie that reflects the Town Hall building and creates a fun focal point that ties in with the restored park.
The “stepping stones” take the form of a set of coloured strips that pick up on the hues of the facades in between. This feature is composed of 7 different types of limestone sourced in France (Comblanchien 1, 2 et 3 and Rocheraine) and Spain (Estone Cenia 1 et 2 and red Moncayo). The stone was selected as part of a concerted, joint effort with the mayor and town council.
The project has transformed this place of passage, located close to the metro and near a number of businesses, into a genuine garden square. This echoes the appearance of the nearby church square, which is also wooded. The new Place Ramon is a meeting point and a place of rest, where visitors can relax in the shade of the honey locust trees (Gleditsia triacanthos Inermis 30/35).
Two new fountains have been added to the either end of the rue de Paris, transforming it into a “3-fountain walkway”. The speed limit on the street has been reduced to 20 km/h and the road itself narrowed significantly, whilst the footpaths have been widened. A “pay parking” (“bornes minutes”) system has been implemented to reduce the number of parking spaces and increase the chances of finding parking for a quick trip to the shops (15 minutes).
The road network area has been modified & a shared zone has been created.
The original intersection, at which the accident rate was very high, has been redeveloped and the entrance to the historic area of the town clearly marked. A fountain has been added to the central terrace, which in turn is located within a large pedestrian zone. The entrance to the walkway has been secured by separating the transit routes and the shared zone routes. The style of this area is decisively pedestrian and encourages drivers to slow down.
The project has created a proper forecourt for the Town Hall at the former entrance to rue de Paris and on part of the lands of the adjacent park. This square/forecourt has breathed new life into the area, linking the Town Hall, the 3-fountain walk and the park. The square acts as a pleasant entrance to the park and a vantage point from which the Town Hall façade can be viewed. The 3-fountain walkway has been integrated using a technique that gives drivers the impression that they are “climbing” up onto the square and encourages them to slow down. The former parking spaces have been reused and duplicated to prevent undesirable parking and protect pedestrians. The square is a preferred venue for cultural events in the town.
Like the “stepping stones”, the water feature supports the effort to ensure continuity with the surrounding facades. The mirror reflects the nearby buildings, blending their colours with those of the stepping stones. Thus, particular emphasis is placed on the Town Hall as a feature. The water feature also contains playful elements for the children of the area to enjoy.
It has been complemented with jets of misty spray and is illuminated at night.
The existing park has been redeveloped and renovated, with the addition of new playgrounds and recreational areas. Two wooden playgrounds have been incorporated under the mature trees.
A unique furniture charter has allowed a common, distinctive style to be created, which is specific to the town centre. The uniform development has been continued with regard to the selection of all of the furniture, resulting in a visual coherence that enhances the existing buildings.
Landscape Architecture: Agence Babylone
Location: Charenton-le-Pont, Val-de-Marne, France
Budget: EUR 3.8M