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ILEX

Ilex paysage urbanisme has around 20 members whose comprehensive expertise in the fields of landscaping, architecture and urbanism finds expression in the development and adaptation of the space we inhabit.

Guerric Péré founded Ilex in partnership with Martine Rascle and remains its director, working with three associates: Jean-Claude Durual, Claudine Thomas and Nadia Herbreteau. Ilex’s integrated approach to urbanism takes account of physical and geographical factors, along with present and future needs and potentialities.

Free space as a value of identity and quality of life

The concept of “urban nature” is integral to this dynamic, thanks to the quality of life it implies, along with its inherent characteristics of invention and appropriation.

Qualitative transformations of urban landscapes
For more than 20 years, both in urban centers and their peripheries, in France and beyond, Ilex paysage urbanisme has been looking at “the city” in all its dimensions

OUR PRINCIPLES

Interrelational space is no longer a void
The interstitiality of our cities is not simply utilitarian or residual. It is central to our lifestyle, complex but prolific – a territory of invention, a spatial and social resource that we need to cultivate.

The essential nature of sites, and their context
We take a sensitive approach to the terrain, given that each inhabited place is a unique vehicle of potentialities. Our development strategy is based on indices which, though they often remain under the radar, are central to the construction of identity.

Humanity at the heart of the project
Qualitative criteria and wellbeing are of the essence. Apart from technical expertise, our acuity and sense of observation place social and aesthetic considerations at the core of our method.

A systemic approach to the environment
Many proposals extend beyond their nominal spatial boundaries. Broadening horizons, linking up themes and maintaining a tight focus – these are among our fundamentals, and they apply to all the different scales at which we work.

The importance of plant life
With nature and the environment as primary partners, it is not just a question of design, but of complex action on the living world, involving new, responsive, sustained synergies, as demonstrated by our specialist knowledge of the living world.

Self-evidence and simplicity
We rely above all on common sense to optimize spatial design and economics. The obsolescence of the “finished product”, and the emergence of permanent transformation
Cities are changing, and new ways of life are taking shape. Energy use, digitalization, mobility, health care: what will the city of tomorrow look like? We are in the business of anticipation, long-term planning and fundamental modularity.

Ilex: a permanent laboratory
Our approach is centered on prefiguration, which generates processes of productive dialogue and realistic testing, while continually extending the range of possible innovations.

Towards a shared economy
Given that the concept of public space is in a state of flux, and that it should now be within the grasp of everyone, we feel that it is important for participants in the public and private sectors to work together all the way through from the initial programming of new functionalities to the point where routine management can take over.

We are attached to certain basic precepts.
Landscape is of paramount importance.
An interrelated mode of grasping and compiling projects is central to an urbanism of discovery.
Our society must accept the idea of placing concrete poetry at the service of development.
An insistence on significance and credibility means that there can be a bright future for our habitat.

The Promenades of Paris- Neuilly : a local and metropolitan public space

Over a distance of more than two kilometres, between La Défense and Paris _Porte Maillot, this urban landscaping project will transform 10 hectares on either side of Avenue Charles de Gaulle, in an urbanistic, economic and human reconquest of an artery which for decades had been given over exclusively to traffic. Public spaces have been transformed for the residents and users, who have been given back ownership and a breath of fresh air. But this iconic avenue has also reclaimed its metropolitan and international dimensions. The project, based on the spatial, historical and economic character of this site in the heart of the conurbation, is a forward-looking platform – a new destination in Greater Paris.

Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris
Winning competition _september 2016

The former coking plant in Drocourt, and Le Parc des Iles: empty space for new urbanity

At the centre of the project was a sterile site surrounded by three slag heaps, and a mine that was still operating at the time of the call for tenders: 150 hectares of interstices between three mining communities. How could this black hole avoid turning into a green hole? There was the novel idea of making water central to the broader picture, with a Parc des Iles (“park of islands”) as one of the driving forces of the overall approach, and with the 150 hectares of slag heaps as the real issue, the real scale of reflection … A spontaneous appropriation by the local people and associations, in this new landscape of industrial geography, carried the day. There were numerous difficulties about governance and management, but the park of islands gradually became a catalyst of a future, new-generation urban framework, as a platform for leisure, habitat and activities.

Drocourt, northern France
2006-2013

Riverbank, Quai Gillet
Lyon[69]

This project is part of a more general plan to develop the banks of the two rivers that flow through Lyon, the Rhône and the Saône. Some 50 kilometres of the Saône’s banks were given back to the local people, with a « river movie » that followed the current. Ilex worked with the artists Pablo Reinoso and Meschac Gaba to bring tranquillity, but also novelty, to the interface between the river and the city.

City, river, heritage
Quai Gillet, running along the city centre, represents a transition from the natural to the urban. The two milieux were brought into harmony, and the river, as the major presence, was allowed to flow over onto the banks, with different vegetational arrangements. The plants were chosen from a natural palette complemented by more horticultural selections, the overall result being dominated by the passive and the expressive.

Warp and weft – visual effects
A dynamic rhythm was projected across the riverbanks. On the convex bends, the eye is led beyond the river itself, while on the concave bends there are more intimate spots, and cocoons of vegetation. The warp of the landscape and the weft of the urban sequences that overlook the riverbanks are woven together.

Refuges and freedoms
This is a new, tranquil way of looking at the cityscape, with its contrasts of ambiance, and freedom to enjoy it in a non-prescriptive way. The riverbanks are refuges set apart from the built environment, conducive to reverie and contemplation. This is a pathway to respiration, following the meanders of the river.

Cité de la Méditerranée – Boulevard du Littoral
Marseille[13]

For some 15 years, Ilex has been working on urbanism and the design of public spaces for the Cité de la Méditerranée, the first phase of the Euroméditerranée project.
As the principal axis of the urban schema, Boulevard du Littoral, completed in 2015, connects the city to the port, which is thus symbolically reintegrated into the collective consciousness of Marseille. Activating a new locus vivendi
For more than 50 years, in the course of its industrialisation, the port was closed in on itself. Our aim, with its total makeover, was to reconstitute a real centrality that would attract infrastructure and people. The idea was to ventilate, diversify and redynamise the area, with cultural and commercial projects, office space, housing and public transport.
How was this seafront to be transformed, and its identity as a port expressed, with links to the city that would give it a new lease of life?

First of all…
With the A55 viaduct being partly moved underground, and the widening of the boulevard, the face of the district was altered. And this has been further reinforced by the provision of new metro and tram lines.
So how was the spirit of the area to be expressed?

Three lines of development

– To begin with, a reduction in traffic along the boulevard through a new hierarchy of connections and utilisations, and an improved image of public space.
– Then, a renewal of direct contact with the sea through the construction of a basin along the J4 esplanade, placing the MuCEM in a dialogue with Fort St-Jean, and lyrically linking up the boulevard with the seafront.
– Finally, the planting of Mediterranean vegetation to cool the air in the public spaces, and a conversion of the boulevard into a promenade.
These changes orientated a major infrastructure programme that included the MuCEM, the Villa Méditerranée, the Regards de Provence museum, the Terrasses du Port and Le Silo.
With its spacious architectural layout, the Boulevard du Littoral is an active interface between the city and the sea, between the history of the port and the actuality of the metropolis.

Parc du Vallon
Lyon, la Duchère[69]

This park is central to the redevelopment of the Duchère district, restoring a geographical character that was not left untouched by history. At the start there was a stream… The park goes from the working-class district of La Duchère to the suburb of Ecully. The stream was formerly buried, but the park remained threatened by an upstream watershed. The aim of the competition was the construction of three dams that would hold back the water in case of excessive rainfall.

The technical challenge
In order to restore the valley to its original character, the stream was brought back to the surface. The dams open up the space, with slightly sloping ground and the formation of a larger and a smaller bed.

The charm of bygone days
The existing technical installations, and the associated relief, have been brought back into evidence. The dams form tiers in a theatre of greenery, and the flat surfaces provide play areas with oculi through which children can listen to the song of the underground stream. A differentiated form of management allows the meadows to flourish naturally, and to rebalance the surroundings. The architecture of the park is complemented by numerous flower beds. This is urban nature acting as a binding force, in the service of the local population.

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