Federation for
Housing and

One garden, several gardeners: working on the edges of Paris

In the framework of the International Symposium “Garden Cities, an ideal to be pursued” hosted by the cities of Suresnes, Stains and Chatenay-Malabry, Urbego organized its 3rd international workshop in collaboration with the IAU île-de-France.

Study case
The 4-days workshop was attended by 14 participants from different countries and professional/study fields – a fundamental characteristic of the Urbego workshops that enriches the experience and represents an opportunity to bring together different approaches to the study case.

With the objective of applying possible reinterpretations of the garden cities principles on a proposal for an area in transformation, the Montjean Plain was selected as case study. Occupying the cities of Fresnes, Rungis and Wissous, the Montjean plain turned out to be a quite challenging site: an open area characterized by a very beautiful and delicate landscape, currently occupied by community gardens and a parcelling, surrounded by housing, by a large business area – the Silic – and by a train station that will also serve a new tram line in the near future, and landlocked by public transport infrastructure (RER, highways) and the Orly Airport. Fragmented, Montjean is clearly an area of contrast that combines zones of activity with wide and quiet areas.

Working process
The first day of the workshop was dedicated to a walking tour through the site, presentations from public authorities and a discussion about our first impressions on the Montjean plain at the Rungis City Hall. The following three days were spent at the seat of the Syndicat Intercommunal de la Plaine de Montjean, a lovely house at Fresnes – la Maison de la Plaine - where we focused on practical solutions. Sunny and warm days inspired us and ensured an excellent working atmosphere. Three areas from the plain were defined to be focused on – the three edges – and the group was divided to work on each one of them always sharing the same objectives: to strengthen bonds between the three municipalities, to improve liveability and to preserve quality through a balance of the built natural environment. The outcome was very integrated: flows of circulation were shaped through the creation of a network of public spaces and housing whilst preserving the core of the area, the beautiful plain itself.

Result presented to the Mayor of Wissous
The group had the opportunity to present the final result to the Mayor of Wissous and representatives of local municipalities, and the solutions and ideas proposed for the area seem to have had generated a positive response from them. The final result was also presented at the international symposium on garden cities in Suresnes.

The workshop represented a great chance to respond to the development needs of the Montjean plain and attract attention to it, and also turned into an opportunity for an interesting conclusion from the group: while aiming to address the theme of garden cities it was possible to realize that a good urban planning practice already implies the applicability of its main concepts – connection, balance between built and natural environment, sense of community and improved livability.