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An urban room in the heart of an old villa district: creating a natural setting in an urban environment

ID card
  • Project name: Séquoia District

  • Location city/canton: Grange-Canal, Chêne-Bougeries, canton of Geneva

  • Type of project: Urban piece

  • Project start date: summer 2018

  • Delivery date: : fall 2020

  • SIA phases: 32 - 53

  • Client: Société Tribord Sarl and Serge Liechtenstein

  • Partner company: Boccard Parcs et Jardins SA

The mission

✔️ Reduce the impact of underground parking by accentuating the rural atmosphere of the place.  

✔️ Guarantee sustainable management of tree heritage despite the constraints of landscaping on slabs.

✔️ Bring a fresh look to a project already launched to find new approaches.

The brief

This urban piece is located in Grange-Canal, on the outskirts of Geneva. In Chêne-Bougeries, these former villa districts are today development zones with new construction coefficients allowing urban densification.

The objective of this project, initially started in the 1990s, is to integrate a residential neighborhood into the heart of a block of individual houses. We were mandated directly by the project owner in the summer of 2018 to provide a fresh perspective and propose a new approach to a deadlocked construction site.  

A residential neighborhood on slabs transformed into a green setting

The particularity of this plot is to be located between two urban fabrics. Major roads are nearby, but none cross the land. The location in the middle of a neighborhood of villas reinforces the impression of being in a pocket of greenery.

Access to the heart of the block is via an old mansion which has been preserved. It is adjoined by a car park and a meadow area with plantations making up a reception area. The rest of the plot is only served by winding pedestrian paths.

On the outskirts, certain existing trees have been preserved and reinforced by the planting of shrubs, shrubs and meadows, creating a rural shrub belt. The heart is more structured with lawns, ginkgo trees and trimmed beech hedges. We also worked with trees with a fastigiate habit to protect the homes from those facing them.

Create a haven of peace in an urban environment

Our bias for this residential area is to restore a very natural atmosphere, to make people forget the presence of the underground car park. We took the opposite approach to the existing project by increasing pedestrian access and eliminating emergency traffic. Outside the plot, the extensive plant palette mainly offers native species. The complexity of this project lies in the heart of the block where it was necessary to recreate vegetation with a rural atmosphere, despite the constraints of planting on slabs.  

Focus on: management of tree heritage

On a complex project like this, our role as landscape architect is also to ensure the management of the tree heritage. When we took over the project, the main challenge was to propose species that could be technically integrated into the project in terms of structure and which respected the compensatory amounts required by the canton of Geneva. A subtle balancing act between administration, engineering and aesthetics.

A complex project in which to exercise our art of diplomacy

Our greatest success on this project? Relaunch a stalled project by offering a fresh perspective. One of the reasons why we were mandated directly by the project owner is our good understanding with the companies. As are our diplomatic and negotiation skills. It is the human qualities of the Arfolia office that allow us to navigate this type of complex mission with confidence.

Since the project was delivered, the vegetation has grown very well and offers the inhabitants of this residential area a natural setting in the city. Mission accomplished !

And for the little story:

While working on this project with the landscapers, we discovered that the tree that has given its name to the neighborhood for over 30 years is actually not a redwood, but a Calocedrus!

“Rather than renaming the neighborhood, this time we planted a real redwood tree over 6m tall, a nod to the future. »