Park in an Old Siderurgical Plant, Caen
Dominique Perrault 

Park in an Old Siderurgical Plant, Caen

Dominique Perrault 


As part of the built-up landscape of Grand Caen, the iron and steel plant of Unimetal was a dense jumble of sheds and railway tracks that took up a surface similar to that which in Paris comprises the Louvre Museum and the Tuleries Garden, meanwhile turned into a strategic place in the development of the city along the River Orle. After the dismantling of the facilities in the nineties, the more significant parts of the factory were left scattered over the extense sandy area, now lacking the connective tissue that once made them a unit. To recover its landscape potential, a park adheres now over the hill rise that served as the factory base, as a green city that grows over the old city of steel.

The valley, the cornice and the plateau are the starting points of a project whose program is at the moment uncertain. The recovery of the banks, the link between the city, the river and the peripheral farm fields thereby become priorities of the intervention, that is conceived as the definition of a pre-landscape, a texture that marks the plot turning it into a backdrop for future developments. The project is undertaken with an almost pictorial attitude that is made evident in its main strategy: the use of a regular and flexible geometry in which both plan directions dominate the vertical’s extension. A one hundred meter side grid is superposed to the plateau in such a way that when this drawing and the ground meet, aspects of the terrain otherwise disregarded are revealed. The grid measures the plot with an objective and constant pace, linking the small scale of the preserved buildings of the old plant – whose dimensions are expressed in meters – with the endless distance of the landscape.

The one-hectare fields drawn by the grid are planted alternatively with grass, herbaceous and staggered trees forming a tapestry over which the preserved buildings are perceived as pieces of a museum of industrial archaeology. The most spectacular element, the refrigeration tower, dominates the central field, a rectangular void of 300x900 meters whose dimensions renounce to the perceptive scale to search for the horizon. In contrast with the layout’s Cartesian rationality, the valley descending to the river adopts the organic contour of the bank vegetation; mediating between two elements, a tree-lined promenade runs along the cornice framing the views onto the city and the farm patchwork, that as the park over the plateau, pursues beauty in the respect towards order and the reiteration of the rule... [+]


Cliente Client

Distrito del Gran Caen District of Greater Caen

Arquitecto Architect

Dominique Perrault

Colaboradores Collaborators

Gaelle Lauriot-Prévost (dirección artística artistic direction)

Consultores Consultants

Guy Morisseau (ingeniería engineering)

Fotos Photos

Georges Fessy