A small island in the centre

Built between 2008 and 2009, the Îlet du Centre residence in Saint-Pierre is a 70-unit operation which took root on the land of the former Luspot family nursery. Today, a dry zone forest bears witness to the ecological impulses of its promoters and the landscape architect Michel Reynaud.

Unique and exemplary in an urban environment.

"This is the former nursery of the Luspot family. There was a lot of land pressure on this well-placed 4,200 square metres of land... I proposed to the Luspot family to do a different project. The idea was not to go beyond 70 units and to remain proud of a slightly different project. With William and Jean Michel, pioneers of endemism, I would have found it absurd that there was not a step in this direction even if I am not an ayatollah of endemism.".

It's Michel Reynaud talking, hat screwed on your head.

Trained as an architect, a precursor of landscaping in Reunion Island, an APN adventurer, a convinced ecologist since a naturalist in France who lived in Brittany, an adept of urban ecology, and an amateur gardener, he looks at the forest that occupies a plot of land in a basin at the top of the street. François-Isautier in St-Pierre by turning your back on an underground parking garage.

Conservatory Ecosystem

In front of him, a plantation of native and endemic species that made up the dry and semi-dry areas of the island before man left his mark on the landscape. Red lataniers, head full of chlorophyll nettle woods, sponge woods and stinking woods can be seen, not to mention countless sand woods.

Surrounded by the bioclimatic facades of a complex that came out of the ground in 2008 and 2009 designed to meet the requirements of high environmental quality, this forest of a few hundred square metres is unique of its kind in an urban environment.

Seven years after the plantations, the place is a conservatory. An ecosystem that today provides many seeds of rare species to nurseries without forgetting to generate its own forest soil. At a time when urban green spaces meet sterile standards of cleanliness, here the leaves remain on the ground in litter to compost naturally, form humus and generate a soil where mats of seedlings draw landscapes on the ground.

Michel Reynaud lifts up a lawn of decomposed leaves, takes a handful of earth and sniffs it in the manner of Claude and Lydia Bourguignon with the satisfied smile of one who knows that here a new partition of urban ecology is being played out. Not a single dead leaf comes out of this garden crossed by a few alleys which distils its freshness to the real estate complex.

This space could just as easily have been a parking lot or another building. Instead, it already displays its qualities as a natural forest landscape, designed from the outset to be soberly accompanied in the manner of a Gilles Clément on a ground corresponding to the conditions of primary forest settlements.

"We have everywhere, one to one and a half metres of rock on which a thin layer of soil has been added. There is air, which is very pleasing to the roots of endemic plants that need young, fractured, poorly developed soil, as you can see when you look at the forests in the south, from Saint-Joseph to Mare-Longue ", explains Michel Reynaud. Another important element is the realization of an impluvium. A rainwater harvesting system that recycles 60% of the residence's rainwater by dispatching it above and below the garden.

A call for calm

And how do the residents experience this exceptional space?

On the street side, along urban pergolas populated with exotic species and palm trees that have left to climb the floors, the footbridges that lead to the apartments are for the most part not very green. This is a sign of the appropriation of space in a space whose transitory and social function is to lead users to differentiate the gardens. A mixed zone that skillfully draws a link with the green lung that awaits them behind. An edge of the forest. The promise of beautiful country.

Garden side," there's very little damage. People come and sit on the rocks. Sometimes they're a little impressed, but they feel it makes sense. They walk across, they observe.

They like it, it's a nice setting. Even if there's no playground. It's a call for calm ", describes Michel Reynaud.

A calm generated by the return of the trees in the city. The return of a heritage in the domestic development.

Vincent PION

Date de parution : 22 Novembre 2015

Source : Le Quotidien de la Réunion

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