Macro-Micro / Fontaine-Vanhaesebrouck Architects

Macro-Micro / Fontaine-Vanhaesebrouck Architects

Paris-based Fontaine-Vanhaesebrouck Architects shared with us their project Macro-Micro, one of the winners in Europan 10.

More images and architect’s description after the break.

Macro Micro isn’t a master plan, but a network of open spaces at macro scale, intensified by micro interventions at particular places. We propose a coherent network based on existing morphology, open spaces structure and landscape qualities. It is our conviction that in the first place a city has to invest in public spaces. A city has to clarify the status of the open spaces and determine the limits or transitions between urban context and natural landscape. We believe that coherent, accessible and qualitative public space can stimulate private initiatives. To boost those initiatives we propose to intervene at specific points in the city and the surrounding landscape to stimulate the revitalization process. The project is a spatial strategy to strengthen the existing specificity of Guben, in particular the landscape qualities and the industrial patrimony.


On macro level we create a permeable and coherent tissue which bases on two interventions: the integration of a system of transversal corridors and the creation of a park that occupies the abandoned railway tracks. The design integrates existing urban and infrastructural voids and transform them into open public spaces. The system of transversal corridors for pedestrians and cyclists operates on different levels. On territorial level, they create a connection between the polish and the German part of the city. At the same time it attracts people to the several landscape territories which divide the urban areas: the agricultural plain, the railway tracks and the river Neisse. On local level, these corridors cross and irrigate various city blocks, bothered by vacancy, but valuable because of their architectural qualities. The system guarantees the relation between the station and the city centre and leads its users – both from Polish and German side of the city – towards the station.

We perceive the railway not longer as a rupture in the tissue but exploit it as a landscape continuity: a new generator of urbanity. The different existing open spaces along the railway are connected and form a continuous landscape park. This new continuity intercepts the different transversal corridors and makes it possible to traverse the railway. It becomes an important buffer zone between the city centre and the railway infrastructure. The interventions various from a complete restructuration. The park is decomposed into different sequences according to the existing environment: in the north it redefines the natural territory of the river; in front of the station it becomes an urban square; between the youth house and the supermarket a continuous landscape creates a new connection; alongside the existing sport fields, it evolutes to a pathway that makes observation possible… The existing topography and different densities of vegetations are used as a design tool.


This tissue, defined on macro level, will be strengthened by the injection of micro programs which make possible to intervene punctually and specifics contexts. These micro programs revitalize present architectural and landscape qualities. The proposed prototypes occupy temporarily the vacant spaces and stimulate possible private initiative. This prototype can be modulated according to three parameters: volume, program and relation with the context. These cubes are deformed, grouped and combined in order to create different scenarios and scenes: a look-out post on the old railway bridge, different boxes as little residences along the water, a literary café in an industrial hall…

Their structure in wood permit to built it with little technical resources The corten steel, covering the exterior, is coherent with the industrial atmosphere, particular to the site. When the box is closed, it becomes a sculpture in its environment. When it is opened, the box becomes alive and invites…

After this revitalizing process, the prototypes can be implanted somewhere else… Thus punctual impulses are given and existing empty spaces get new meaning within the perception and the spatial structure of the city. Moreover, these boxes function as recognition points in the environment and generate certain traverses.


The main idea is that the city of Guben limits his intervention to the realization of a spatial framework and interferes temporarily in the construction dynamic by proposing prototypes on micro level. The city offers the spatial and public framework on macro level to encourage private initiatives on intermediary level by sublimating present qualities. On the medium level the building volumes are grouped and redefined as entities, often with their own logic and open spaces. We re-define the limitation, urban or landscaped, of these ensembles. Our project is specifically focused to restructure the open spaces and to absorb them in the structure of the macro-level. These ensembles have their own identities and environment, but they become permeable and contribute to a coherent structure from macro-level to micro-level. Macro micro is a project that search the coherence in a city, which is characterized by his urban fragmentation, due to railway infrastructure, and natural limits. We redefine a new hierarchic structure to find a dialogue between city and landscape.

About this author
Cite: Sebastian Jordana. "Macro-Micro / Fontaine-Vanhaesebrouck Architects" 03 Feb 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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