Niel Garden

Niel quarters were an old military building built at the end of the 19th century.

On a small elevation and dominating the river Garonne the place has been marked throughout the history. Due to the presence of archaeological remains found in the subsoil, no excavation of more than 40cm of depth was authorized. At the same time, the council wanted a garden with trees and vegetation.

The solution proposed consist in raising the soil and creating a new topography using the soil extracted from the excavation of the adjoining buildings basements. The topography accentuates the relief and evokes the landscape of hills of the region Toulousaine: Lauragais or Volvestre.

This undulating relief is installed inside the old square of arms, like a veil covering the archaeological site and its treasures, and allowing to plant trees, creating an oasis of vegetation in the central part of the garden.

In contrast with the clasical geometry of the enclosure original composition, the new topography brings a disorder. While keeping the view towards the building of the Etat Major, the new topography adds new horizons that overlap and vary while people wandering.

The garden, without losing its unity, is complexed in a addition of different places, landscapes and environments, formed by hills, paths, groves and large esplanades. All of them suitable for different activities: children’s play areas, slides installed on slopes, spaces of rest and of walk, of meeting, shows…etc.

In the valleys appears the pathways. The pavement, completely permeable, has been made with large “carpets” – to the scale of the place – arranged in strips of 1m wide by 10m long. Made up of ceramic pieces of 30x5x6cm -dimension of traditional brick toulousaine- “woven” with a metal mesh with galvanized steel wire.

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Thanks to the flexibility of this mesh and the dimensions of the pieces the floor can be deformed and perfectly adapted to the new terrain undulations in all directions.

The mesh matrix allows to play with the density of the ceramic pieces, leaving “random” voids at the ends and thus achieving a diffuse transition between the pavement and the grass. There are no limits or edges in the matter changes:

• The roads wander and melt with the hills as the grass gradually appears between the ceramic pieces
• The large pond is a surface of water that fills a slight concavity of the soil.

The furniture, the pergola and the access doors, is constructed with a mesh of deployé in steel corten so that, or are confused with the rest, or allow the grasping of the vegetation.

The Niel garden manages to be a dynamic space, with multiple environments under the same language. A language based on topography and material that merge into a single intervention where everything seems obvious.

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