Southampton quay occupies a unique position within the world heritage classified area of Le Havre. Its composition, its belonging to a monumental triangle, and its relationship to the ocean – all intended by the Auguste Perret firm in their renovations – make of it the city's large port facade. The strong and simple spirit that the site exudes creates an obligation of maintaining its coherence and authenticity. With conviction, as well as with a certain radicalism, we conceived its development as a very large unitary surface that can be both a place of use and a place that belongs to the large landscape.
Large lawns are implanted on the mineral surface of the quay. Their spindle-shaped profile is the result of a precise study of the landmarks and the large piers that underlie the port's coastline. The fluidity of the paths is designed to extend urban practices to the waterfront without distorting the beauty of the site's excessiveness. This transformation gives rise to a sharing of spaces where the port functionalities are preserved.
The conjunction of the estuary of the river Seine, the industrial harbor, and Perret's facade alignments, is extraordinary. In order to avoid diminishing this confrontation between scales, we are using an elementary lawn, a road asphalt without any joints, that tends, without complacency nor embellishment, towards a particular “excessiveness”.
The intention to privilege the search for the right scale has allowed to take up a delicate challenge. The result of the project is the product of a true dialogue and the integration of a multitude of aspects. The void determined the layout of the quay: a simple but precise drawing restores the geographical scale. This did not frighten anyone, as if the interlocutors and inhabitants of the port cities were proud to live in an environment of a certain grandeur.
City of Le Havre / Grand Port Maritime du Havre
MDP Michel Desvigne Paysagiste (lead consultant)
IHA Inessa Hansch Architecte, architect, urban planner
SNAIK, public lightning
2020 Equerre d'Argent - public spaces and landscape category (France)