Antoine Fourrier

Antoine Fourrier

Landscape Architecture

A Vegetable Garden for Paris. Le Plateau de Saclay. Designing with Agriculture

In the last years, the urban sprawl phenomenon has particularly affected our peri-urban agricultural areas. Due to the growth of our cities and consequent strong demand in housing, farmland disappears each year more and more. This has become a source of growing social, ecological and cultural concern. The case of the peri-urban farmland of Saclay in France is a good example of this problem.

Located on top of a plateau, Saclay is one of the largest agricultural areas within the outskirts of Paris. The area is part of the Grand Paris urban plan and in the near future will become the ‘French Silicon Valley’, a cluster of research and science. This place has both an agricultural and a heritage interest. Despite their industrial practices, the farmers of Saclay has been seeking to get closer to the consumer. They formed community-supported agriculture associations and are greatly appreciated by people. They also have been protesting against the urbanisation of their fertile lands with the support of public opinion. If people are keen to protect Saclay, it is because this place is a landscape heritage. Indeed, back in the time, the water system of Saclay and its aquaduct used to provide water for the fountains of Versailles. The ambition of this project is to make Saclay a meaningful agricultural landscape for the metropolis, instead of being a building reserve. This project will investigate how fresh food production can be a driving force for peri-urban areas.

A sustainable and intensive agriculture
The future of farming starts from the landscape. We should use all aspects of the landscape to produce more and better. Nowadays, a new kind of agriculture is being developed together with precision farming, agro-ecology, and high tech farming techniques. These new technologies use all the aspects of the landscape to produce food in an optimal way, according to the climate, soil, water or topography of the place. This project develops a strategy to encourage the farmer to work together with the scientific cluster Paris-Saclay, and cooperate with the locals in order to produce fresh food. Consequently, instead of being a threat, the urban development of the new scientific cluster is a great opportunity for farmers by sharing knowledge and competences. Furthermore, the rationality and the functionality of the agriculture in Saclay can lead to a poetic landscape. Among other things, contemporary farming can create new landscapes and regenerate old structures.

For example, clumps of trees can grow in the corners not accessible by automated agricultural machinery, in evocation of wood once used for hunting. Moreover, this wood can be used for other agricultural purposes (mulching, animal feed, etc.). Also, typical tree alignments from the 17th century can be brought back with a new agricultural and recreational infrastructure. Finally, the old water system can be used for high tech aquaponic farming or for more traditional water cress and snail farming. New connections are proposed between the villages and the metropolis. The future metro station Paris-Saclay can be a great location for an agro-logistic hub. Here, people can buy fresh products and see how food is produced and processed.

Saclay has been a curiosity in the French landscape by its an innovative water system from the 18th century. Tomorrow, the technology of the 21st century will transform this place again. This technological revolution is bringing a landscape revolution as well. Saclay will shift from a monotonous large scale landscape to a deeply diverse and subtle landscape. Agriculture can become highly meaningful for the metropolis by connecting the farmers and the people with the beauty of an innovative agricultural landscape.

Commission: Ruut van Paridon (mentor), Gianluca Tramutola, Jana Crepon. Additional members for the exam: Harm Veenenbos, Niké van Keulen.

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