STUDENT PROJECT | La Pépinière Royale | Iwein Mertens

“History dies without the present. There is no future without the path made to it by the past.” (Chambers, A. 2006) In the era we live today, it is important to appreciate and protect the rich history we have, even for the small and pittoresque villages such as Pigna.



“La Pépinière Royale”, the Royal Tree Nursery in Pigna, Corsica is an historical estate that served as central production and distribution center for extensive plantations covering the entire island in the 18th and 19th century. Nowadays this estate is an abandoned ruin that is being restored and redeveloped through a European-funded project (Leader).

This thesis explores the options on how this redevelopment can be implemented and how this historical site can provide possibilities for contemporary needs and challenges. Focus points of this research are the revitalization of the park, the landscape construction, indigenous and historic on site flora, relationship with the town of Pigna and multifunctional use of the different facilities and the connection with its surroundings.

Furthermore it looks into the implementation of the surroundings on a smaller scale that leads to the creation of the label PAESU di QUI (Villages d’ici, Towns from here). Focus points here are the conservation of architecture, the background of the town and the cooperation with the association.

As a result a design for the park was made with a focus on the aspects that the island of Corsica, the region ‘La Balagne’ and the town of Pigna have to offer. The overall concept is based on infinity, as the title louds “A l’infinitude”. A park should be more than just limited between its borders, it should go deeper into the town, surroundings. To make the “infinity” concept more specific towards Pigna and the nursery it was chosen to represent it by the Red Kite, what could represent the infinity better than a bird? A bird is free in the air, can go wherever there wings bring them. The Red Kite or Milan Royale in French represents the infinity for the whole area, whereas its landscape represents the Nursery. To counter the “infinity” a small area in the park is developed as a mystical garden, where the hidden garden is used as a buffer between the “Infinity”.

The historical landscape of the area is restored, based on the 4 historical fountains; French suits as in playing cards. This symmetrical part of the garden can be used of private occasions as weddings or even an open air casino. Central of the park the existing retaining walls are being used as a huge amphitheater where theater plays or music concerts could be preformed.

A method on how the park can sustain with its own resources was designed and a label specific to Pigna was created (PAESU di QUI) which would encourage other communities in Corsica to market their identity and put them back on the map.


La Pépinière Royale

Location | Pigna, Corsica, France

Designers | Iwein Mertens

Credits | Iwein Mertens

Master thesis – Hochschule Weihenstephan – Triesdorf

About Damian Holmes 3339 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at