Pavillion for the Greater Paris Metropolis, Architecture and Landscape Biennale of Versailles, 2022 by

2023 Other / France / Built in 2022 /

As part of its participation in the architecture and landscape biennale of Versailles, the Greater Paris Metropolis (Métropole du Grand Paris) presents an exceptional architectural work and landscape design, unveiling a pavilion which constitutes the first experience of a building based on the principle of a free standing biodiverse wall carried out by ChartierDalix.

Designed as part of on going research conducted by ChartierDalix for several years, this structure is both a massive load-bearing wall and a vertical ground, inhabited by fauna and flora. Telluric, compact and enveloping, it resembles a garden nursery that punctuates the promenade. The Pavillon oh the Greater Paris Metropolis, with its biodiverse wall, is an invitation to think together about the Metropolis of tomorrow where nature and the city could hybridize.

The originality of this system lies in the continuity of a substrate network inside the self-supporting wall and in the thickness of its surface layer. The design of this network targets both the ecological continuity of a «living» substrate and the retention of water, in order to allow plants to develop there in a sustainable way, thanks to a large space dedicated to the systems roots.

Two openings turned towards the Palace of Versailles offer a sequence of perspectives. A curved roof, as if levitating, covers the dry stocked stone structure. This pavilion is also a demonstration of the hidden resources of the city: it exposes the potential linked to the deposits of materials, the issues linked to their revaluation and encourages reflection on the restoration of ecological environments in urban areas.

All the stones used for the construction of this work come from major projects from île-de-France such as the dismantling of the banks of the Seine, the renovation of the Palais de Tokyo and the construction site of Les Halles. Thus, it testifies to the range of possibilities offered by reuse, know-how and imagination for the construction projects of tomorrow.

The Pavilion is a place of interdisciplinary cultural dissemination during the Biennale, the Métropole du Grand Paris exhibits with curators from Les Ateliers Médicis, photographs highlighting the unique link between the metropolitan territory and the earthwithin the pavilion. Ephemeral and sound works as well as performances will periodically accompany the wandering visitors in the Pavilion.

Data :
50 m3 of stones
origin of the stones: re-used stones from Parisian projects such as Les Halles, Palais de Tokyo, the banks of the Seine, Sully bridge, Place de la Madeleine (seated)
Porphyry and limestone
15 tons of topsoil /
diameter of the building : 12,3 m outside / 11,7 m inside
height of the wall : 2,2 m
finished height of the work : 4,2 m

Plant palette
The biodiverse wall host a local and indigenous fauna and flora, it will be monitored to evaluate the behavior of plants during the biennial and after.

Pink snapdragon, Sand arrow, Ruin of Rome, ivy-leaved toadlax, Erect bedstraw, Yellow bedstraw, Cut geranium, Ground ivy, Climbing ivy, St. John’s wort, Rooted pigweed, Common oregano, Common Brunelle, Carpenter’s wort, Wall pepper, Acorn orbit, White orbit, Thyme, Early thyme…

Composition and characteristics of the substrate
Petitdidier Light Soil substrate composed of 30% linen, 30% compost and 30% organic soil.
– Mineral granulometry: Variable size from 1-16mm
– PH water: 6.5<pH<8.0
– Organic matter (O.M): > 10% and <15% of dry mass
– Maximum settlement rate: 15%.
– Density at CME: 800-1000 kg/m3
– Dry density: 600-800 kg/m3
– Water holding capacity (%vol): ≥ 45%

Hosting life, a research combining architecture and landscape

The city-nature connection is of particular interest to ChartierDalix. The resilient city is the one that will be able to bring people back into contact with their environment without opposing city and nature. But also because it is an opportunity for the office to question the conception of the project through the material, the form and the uses. Integrating places of nature means taking advantage of every available space to allow and encourage life to take root.

ChartierDalix, through its Research and Landscape divisions, has been working for several years on the integration of life and biodiversity in architecture and landscape. The first research is collected in a book entitled “Hosting life : architecture as an ecosystem” published in 2019 by ParkBooks. A research on the design of biodiverse walls is currently deepened by a doctoral student hosted at the office since 2019.

The biodiverse wall is a new type of vertical vegetation system designed to promote biodiversity in dense cities by hosting local and indigenous fauna and flora. Rather than a vertical garden generally composed of exotic plants, the inhabited wall offers a unique architectural quality, which gives the opportunity for plants to settle sustainably and in a more autonomous way than hydroponic wall systems.

Here, the stones are arranged in such a way that an interior free space is created to accommodate the substrate. This operation is made possible by the presence of lateral tierod elements that hold the two parts of the wall together. In addition to opening a space between the different parts of the masonry wall, openings of varying size are reserved in the façade.

This is not a façade cladding, but a complete wall, both structural and functional. The interest of the masonry is visible here in its aesthetics and the freedom it gives to the designer who can compose a moucharabieh according to the expectations of the desired reception of plants and animals. This system has also been developed with other materials, such as concrete or bricks and is constantly monitored and evaluated by scientists and ecologists.

Location: Avenue de Paris, 78000 Versailles, France

Design year: 2022

Year Completed: 2022


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