Located in the third ring of suburbs of the town of Guérande, barely 700 meters from the ramparts of the walled town, the district of Maison Neuve is the first milestone of the eco rampart concept. The idea behind this concept initiated and developed by Eduardo Souto de Moura in the framework of the Atelier Littoral (Coastline Workshop) is to give the city back limits by finding new ramparts in the symbolic image of enclosing walls. It is not about creating new enclosures but about defining a durable thickness between land for construction and natural or agricultural areas. This aim is to constitute a fabric made up of various thicknesses that let the landscape enter the city. The water circuit is one of the foundations of this pilot project dealing with the treatment of the boundaries between built space and natural space.
The site’s landscape identity is emphasised. The principle of planting hedgerows on slopes is retained. The network of soft connections is plotted out based on the layout of the hedgerows and main arteries are created along the lines of the weak and aging hedgerows. The vegetation that currently allows to distinctly identify the hollows, gaps and full areas of the site plays this same role of “space sensor” in the framework of the project. It is differentiated depending on the entities and thus enables an instinctive reading of the site: wet area, stream, meadow, walking trail, bike trail (Vélocéan), plot boundary, etc.
The presence of the stream is one of the distinctive features of the project. It can be understood as the backbone of the project, serving as a connection between Guérande/salt marshes/Atlantic ocean and laying out the initial outline of a safe walking route. By softening transitions between urbanised areas and agricultural areas it also acts as a buffer. Beyond its ecological function of draining off rainwater through the network of swales that flow into its bed, the stream is a genuine walking route. Its banks are shaped so as to allow better visibility and accessibility.
The emphasis is placed on pedestrian paths: a whole network of paths and cycle tracks criss-crosses the site. In order to maintain the tranquillity of the site, car parking is provided for via the “landscaped parking pockets” located outside housing access. They may occasionally be used as reception venues.