Métamorphose is the common dream of two landscape architects who met in 1998 during their studies at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure du Paysage of Versailles. It is also a landscape agency created in 2005 that works at all scales, from the garden to the territory, in study, design and project management, mostly on public space.
Ariane Smythe and Benoît Vignes combine their complementary qualities and skills to serve the project, the client and the plant kingdom.
A subtle marriage
of art & technique,
poetry & realism,
friendliness & professionalism.
The agency is located in the agglomeration of Troyes in St-Julien-les-Villas, in the department of Aube and works mainly in Champagne and in the Paris region.
Ariane & Benoît chose to have a wooden frame office built on stilts in 2018 in their very big garden. Inspired by distant lands, it has large windows opening onto a wooded landscape with a flowing stream, so as to live with the rhythm of nature in a nevertheless urban environment. It is a perfect playground for testing in situ plant associations and practicing ecological gardening.
Métamorphose, as a landscape specialist, is very sensitive to taking the environment into account in all its development projects. The agency is interested in current trends and perpetual innovations and has many references in alternative rainwater management in town planning projects with more than ten years experience in the creation of valleys and vegetated infiltration basins (since 2007).
Ariane Smythe and Benoît Vignes wish to preserve the functioning of a small business like craftsmen who master each step of the process. They follow the design of projects from A to Z and no phase is delegated. Each project is created with a constant concern for harmony and quality. Many elements of detail are drawn by the designers themselves so that each layout has a unique soul. It is the “spirit of place” which inspires the designers and guides their work and metamorphosis of space: the analysis of the context (geomorphological and historical), of atmospheres, lights and views constitutes the fundamental basis of the intuitive creation process.
Each intervention on the garden, public space or landscape takes into account the users and permanently seeks to transform their daily lives. For the agency, a project cannot emanate solely from a strong architectural gesture. It requires a work of composition and articulation for the users to feel well in the living space, for them to reclaim it and bring it to life. To offer beauty, a better environnement and dreams to everyone, regardless of age, origin or income. Public space must be a space of intergenerational connections where nature finds it’s place, especially at a time when the city and the urban people need it the most.
The Aire des Moissons project aims to revitalize the existing ZAC and enhance its attractiveness by renovating it and equipping it with the construction of a Greencenter ecological commercial park® called Begreen. The project has large avenues, including a main one with a triple tree alignment, connecting the existing commercial zone. The Begreen part of the design offers new retail shops in a development scheme certified High Environnement Quality, with an elaborate storm water system using aquatic plants, contemporary buildings with green roofs, large pathways suitable for bikes and rollers, a big wooden custom-made playground and a strong presence of vegetative cover. Play elements have been put in front of various shops to occupy small children. Many people come and enjoy the place even on sundays when the shops are closed, because of the numerous paths and playgrounds, as in a park. In the long run, the densely planted parkings will look like urban forests. A natural wooded edge has been implanted all around Begreen on the field side for optimum integration of the constructions in the surrounding landscape.
Location: Saint-Parres-aux-Tertres, France / Design: 2008 / Construction: 2013 / Area: 12 hectares / Client: Troyes Group of Councils / Promoteur : FREY / Prize : Trophée “Small & Mid Cap” by FSIF (décember 2012) / Certification : High Environnement Quality / Team : Architect (Fèvre et Gaucher), landscape-architect (Métamorphose), road engineer (FP Géomètres Experts).
This garden was named the Odyssey garden by Metamorphose during the 2006 competition. An unused piece of land remained in the heart of this dense residential area of Villeneuve-le-Roi, overflown by frequent planes of the Orly International Airport, just nearby, bringing a lot of noise nuisance. The concept was to create a garden revolving around the theme of the journey, to help the surrounding residents better tackle their everyday life, while offering them, beyond the entry gate, a garden full of surprises, with a change of scenery and an unforgettable sensorial experience. Spring water arriving from the plateau is stored in an underground water reservoir and used in the two fountains imbedded in the slope of the garden. Light mist brings refreshing air children who love this kind of playful experience. Different theme gardens compose the project : the passion garden, the sensorial garden, the dream garden, the travel garden and the carelessness garden. An atmosphere of undergrowth set up under the preserved old trees in memory of the Bois Soupault, a wooded park that once existed in the early 20th century in this exact spot. The city has a large population of spanish migrants, which explains the influence of Spain in the design : Gaudi with his mosaics and elegant curves, bricks and azulejos (ceramics), but also the fountain of the Alhambra palace.
Location: Villeneuve-le-Roi, France / Design: 2006 / Construction: 2008 / Area: 5 000 m2 / Client: Villeneuve-le-Roi council
The Cramant viewpoint is part of a network of outdoor museographical sites around the themes of vine growing and vineyard landscapes. An old fashioned style viewpoint has completely been transformed into a contemporary public space overlooking the Cramant vineyard and a 180° view, with a typical vineyard shelter, a photography exposition, a telescope, bilingual interpretive panels and outdoor furniture including sun loungers. Vines climb on custom made pergolas. The subsoil in the Champagne region is rich in limestone, which explains why the design focuses on this material, as if it was naturally emerging from the ground. The strong horizontal line of the low stone wall is a benchmark which reveals the waving shapes of the landscape topography and the changing seasonal colors. This viewpoint is all the more important with the Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 2015.
Location: Cramant, France / Design: 2009 / Construction: 2011 / Area: 365 m2 / Client: Epernay Pays de Champagne Group of Councils
Troyes has a strong policy to improve it’s city center. In 2015, it was the cathedral square’s turn to be transformed, including the wish to drastically reduce the number of cars and to have a new sober and timeless public space. The square’s design respects a simple composition so as not to compete with the cathedrals facade : a large diagonal cross centered on its pillars offers a fluid pedestrian connection to the surrounding main streets. At its centre, a stainless steel rosette encrusted with stone represents a small model of the central rose window of the building, a projection 27 m from the façade (equivalent to its height). V-shaped benches naturally slip into the composition and line the place with vegetation. The trees are planted where they do not prevent principal views on the main gate and are therefore mainly located along the southeast side of the square. The layout of the paving stones follows the diagonals and reinforce the orientation of the floor in the building itself, to ensure the best possible continuity between the city and the church. The benches have been designed to be consistent with the other contemporary benches of the city (guarantee of stability) while bringing a lightness thanks to the gap created by stainless steel components. Metamorphosis and Elyse Ragueneau have chosen to work with the craftsmen who have historically built the Cathedral of Troyes in order to pursue a certain tradition of design.
Location: Troyes, France / Design: 2015 / Construction: 2017 / Area: 4 300 m2 / Client: city of Troyes / Team : with Elyse Ragueneau, landscape architect / Mission : design alone, project management handled by the Troyes municipal services
The Vix Park is an interpretive natural space designed in a forest clearing around the theme of water. A spring, which used to supply drinking water, had been channelled and buried since. The project consisted in making the spring appear again and flow through the clearing under various forms : a stream, a wetland, a champagne bubble sculpture and a pond. This recreational and educational park is quite a magical place with a special atmosphere. Views are opened towards the village, vineyard and plains, footpaths twist among the trees, the sky reflects into the mirrors of water … and it isn’t rare to hear a child playing an instrument, creating a floating object or jumping from bubble to bubble. Interpretive panels explain many things and suggest activities. They also have flashcodes giving english versions and local tales. Many tourists visiting the Champagne region are happy to stop over in this cool natural site while discovering the vineyard and champagne cellars.
Location: Avize, France / Design: 2010 / Construction: 2013 / Area: 3,7 hectares / Client: Epernay Pays de Champagne Group of Councils