Team West 8 wins design competition for conversion of former School of Infantry and urban park in Montpellier, France

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Earlier this month Hélène Mandroux, Mayor of Montpellier announced that West 8 in collaboration with Montpellier architects, Boyer-Percheron-Assus, is the winner of the urban design competition for the conversion of the former School of Infantry site (EAI) (35 ha) in the city of Montpellier. Team West 8 beat fellow competitors BIG Agency and Bau-B. West 8’s proposal emphasizes rejuvenation of the pre-existing condition to “subtly transform the site from one state to another, without upsetting the heritage” explains Michaël Delafosse, Deputy Major and urbanism delegate. The proposed redevelopment of the EAI into a new district will be presented to the public in September. Development of the neighborhood will be led by Thierry Laget from SAAM (Development Company of the city of Montpellier).


The Montpellier School of the Infantry from West 8 on Vimeo.

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In 2010, the troops of the EAI retreated from their city base. While this created considerable economic trauma for the city, over a thousand jobs were lost, it also became a great opportunity to redesign 35 hectares of open space in an otherwise dense urban sector, located less than a mile from the historic center of Montpellier.

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Team West 8’s envisions a sustainable neighborhood (featuring soft travel, underground parking, water management and energy efficient buildings), with diverse architecture and an environmentally enhanced park – 2,000 new trees will be planted three dramatic watermills installed.

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Instead of building all of the proposed 4000 homes at once, Team West 8 proposed that the construction of 2300-3000 homes will be phased gradually over the next 15 years. The mixed housing typologies include: collective / individual and inter-generational, with one third of social housing and a third in helped accession, says the City.

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Opening on Avenue de Toulouse

The site opens up the Avenue de Toulouse (avenue de Toulouse) to Bugarel Street (rue Bugarel) “by re-appropriating 20 openings in the historical city wall and making them entrance points” said Michael Delafosse. The area will be very sustainable. “Buildings that produce more than they consume, strict water management, central soft mobility and biomass cogeneration are the key sustainability features”, he added.

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An Echo of the Esplanade

The landscaping of the Montcalm park include planting of 2000 trees which forms a kind of “urban broccoli”. The goal is to provide shade for park users in all seasons, and offer different landscapes. ‘The Montcalm park makeover’ will echo the central esplanade of Montpellier and will be accessible to all. It is multifunctional: people can come here to walk, read, relax, play sports, (fitness trail), or work remotely with their laptop or tablet.

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Team West 8’s winning design for this urban project focuses on a process of reinvestment that takes advantage of the pre-existing context, the landscape, its architecture and emerging practices within the site, which remains open to the public. The design strategy operates over multiple scales, articulating the metropolitan and local issues related to quality urban life.

The project consists of a landscaped public space which covers more than 20ha and encompasses both park and promenade. Optimal connections within the park create a permeable urban area where soft modes of transportation are privileged.

Team West 8 wins design competition for conversion of former School of Infantry and urban park in Montpellier, France

client | Société d’Équipement de la Région Montpelliéraine, SAAM
partners | Boyer et Percheron, Merlin
consultants | Gilles Sensini, APC, ARP, JEOL

team |
Adriaan Geuze, Maarten van de Voorde, Christoph Elsasser, Inna Tsoraeva, Karsten Buchholz, Mary Protsyk, Pieter Hoen, Pieter Bertheloot, Rob Koningen, Ronald van Nugteren

image credits | ©WEST 8