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The Pont-Rouge school in Lancy: a green courtyard in the heart of a changing neighborhood

ID card
  • Name of the project: Lancy Pont Rouge School

  • Location city/canton: Lancy, canton of Geneva

  • Type of project: Public establishment

  • Project start date: 2019

  • Delivery date: 2023

  • Surface area of ​​the AMEX project: 6,500 m²

  • SIA phases: 31-53

  • Architect: CCHE Lausanne SA

  • Partner companies: 2M civil engineering SA, Electric lighting

The mission

✔️ Integrate a school inside a park, rather than proposing a park adjacent to a school.

✔️ Transform an industrial plot without any vegetation into a hilly and flourishing landscaped park.

✔️ Juggle between outdoor spaces reserved primarily for students and those open to the public.

The brief

This project is located in the Pont-Rouge district of Lancy, in the canton of Geneva. Developed over the last ten years, this eco-district close to the Geneva PAV (Praille Acacias Vernets) project is an area undergoing rapid urban change.

The plot, a former CCF warehouse, is the last link in this new residential area. Bordered on one side by the railway tracks and on the other by the town hall park, the idea is to create a green extension into which the school fits. Special feature of the project: apart from the valley created upstream, there was nothing existing! It's up to us to shape a green urban park from a blank canvas.

Transform a former industrial warehouse into a lush wooded park

The particularity of the site is to be located in the heart of a rapidly developing district. The initial competition involved half a school group. During the project, the town of Lancy preferred to opt for a complete school group in order to anticipate future needs. The outdoor spaces are used primarily by the school's students, but are freely accessible to all residents of the neighborhood outside of school hours.

The challenge was significant: transforming this former CCF storage area into a green setting to accommodate a school and its courtyard, a public park and a multi-sport area. The land has been completely sculpted to create hills and more than a hundred trees planted to recreate the typical atmosphere of a park.

The plant palette, richer than usual, also transcribes this atmosphere with exotic species, including a ginkgo biloba, a Persian parrotie and particular oaks. For the groves, we worked with around twenty native species, compared to five to ten in a classic project of this scale. To accompany the tree line in the western part, we created an atmosphere under the woods with various perennial plants. The idea is to diversify the species to rediscover the arboretum spirit of the parks. Furthermore, all of the specimens planted, more than a hundred, respect the town hall's desire for organic production.

Within the school establishment, two particular elements should be noted: a “Jurassic” patio and a roof terrace with a view. Located in the heart of the building, the patio takes up the analogy of Australian canyons with rare exotic tree species dating back to the Cretaceous period and exuberant foliage evoking Jurassic landscapes in the collective unconscious. The fun terrace upstairs opens up a clear view of the surrounding mountain ranges. In addition to the panorama, it offers two large wooden vegetable gardens to encourage students to put their hands in the earth during botany lessons.

The bias: integrating a school in the heart of a landscaped park

In partnership with the architects, we designed a school not as a separate entity surrounded by a park, but as a whole that works together. The key word: create a park while meeting the constraints and needs of a school. To do this, we used the key typologies of an urban park: an arboretum of varied species, a dialogue between closed spaces and open spaces, a central meadow, undulating areas, organic paths. A whole landscape language specific to these pockets of nature in the city.

Focus on: custom-made solid wood benches

Via a competition, two works were created on the site by two female artists. To echo them, we proposed the integration of custom-made monolithic benches in solid oak. Real fine work so that these unique pieces, handcrafted by an artist, fit perfectly into the site. We modeled the project in three dimensions so that the company could do the technical details and the artist could sculpt the seats by hand. Thanks to the precise altimetry of the project and the 3D projection, the benches harmoniously match the topography of the land.

A generous public park, a link between the urban and the green

In addition to the quality of finish of the monolithic wooden benches, for us, the great success of this project is the implementation of complex water management. Rainwater is collected via a careful system of channels materialized by treatment on the gray concrete floor. They are then stored in an underground tank to be reused in situ, in particular to power the automatic watering of all trees and all surfaces.

“The key element of this project?
Succeed in over a hundred trees planted!”

Sylvain P