Recently honored in the first edition of the ‘OFF du dévelopment durable’ as ‘sustainable and desirable area’ and awarded in the recent ‘Barème carbone’ Prize, Tekhnê Architects‘ proposal for the Urban Development project of Beausejour ZAC in La Réunion aims to meet a tremendous challenge. It consists in taking an outstanding 80 ha site of sugar cane fields and then conceiving and creating a town that will be loved by its population and will go through time without hindrance, by integrating it into the environmental setting of the 21st century. More images and architects’ description after the break.
(Re-)Discovering the pleasure of living “in town”, on an island, in a period when people prefer to live individually and apart, is not as simple as it may seem. To meet this challenge, the holistic proposal developed on the basis of the site’s potentials provides the 20,000 people of this “half-slopes” area with an attractive, identifiable town centre area and neighborhoods with unique atmospheres to ensure that they are lived in by a varied range of people, which is the foundation of balanced community harmony. In this case, the land ceases to be a simple asset to be developed, and it becomes a resource for a new intense, economical and balanced human settlement, playing its part in the island’s demographic expansion.
This balance is sought by founding the urban development plan on the place’s ecological base, combining urban functions (housing, shops, local services, jobs, leisure activities and entertainment, etc.), while offering a wide range of credible transport options (frequent, regular public transport services in dedicated corridors, electric bicycles, etc.) and also avoiding excessive use of energy (no air-conditioning of homes, etc.).
The artificialization of farmland fertilizes an ecologically-designed town of 80 ha, 2300 homes, 90 800 m2 of shops, services and business premises, and the developed mode l of a tropical town – dense, intense and desirable – saves the equivalent of 800 ha from being developed elsewhere in a scattered manner throughout the island. The plan draws on the ecological substratum of the place, considering a mix of the topography (marked by a strong slope and gaping ravines), the routes of run-off water flow, the passage of ecological corridors and the routes followed by winds. The site that is already defined and demarcated by agricultural use, the cane-field roads, the backgrounds views on sea or mountain, give us indications of the possibilities for the town to draw the neighborhood’s geometry in the place’s geography.
To meet the needs of a socially fragile population, 40% social homes are planned for Beauséjour. The wide range of housing types – apartment blocks, intermediate housing or detached/individual homes – is a very appropriate way the achieve the aim of diversifying the sections of the population, including different generations. While the central area includes more apartment buildings, the western neighborhoods have all types of housing and related shapes and sizes. In total, 2,300 homes will be built in the town, including 600 in the central area and 700 homes in the western neighborhoods.
The reduction of the ecological footprint of human settlements is vital for Reunion Island, as a direct consequence of its demographic transition and its insularity. In reference to the “Negawatt” energy saving approach, the plan always chooses simplicity and economy as its prime environmental principles. Stopping urban sprawl, returning to multi-functionality of the town, structuring a credible public transport system, developing non-motorized means of travel, re-introducing greenery and water into the town, and applying new ways of building, are all factors that contribute to it.
Architects: Tekhnê Architects
Location: Beauséjour, Sainte-Marie, La Réunion
Landscape Designers: Atelier LD – UPAU
Electrician: Scène Publique
Roads, Utilities & Miscellaneous External Works Engineers: Egis
Dry Utilities Systems Engineers: CER
Client: CBO Territoria