The School of Architecture and Landscape, Kingston University has been carrying out a school-wide research project into sites governed by UNESCO World Heritage. Projects range in scale from landscape, to cities, buildings and interiors and consider implications of heritage listing for the past, present and future of their sites.
Earlier this year a group of staff and post-graduate students on the Landscape and Urbanism MA and Landscape Architecture (LI accredited) PgDip courses visited Le Havre, France for a week long site study visit. Le Havre’s port is the second largest in France, after that of Marseilles, for total traffic, and the largest French container port. The Port 2000 project increased the container capacity to compete with ports of northern Europe, transforming the southern districts of the city. In 2005 UNESCO inscribed the central city of Le Havre as a World Heritage Site.
During the visit students and staff were introduced to Le Havre, the port and surrounding areas by a team from Agence d’Urbanisme de la Région du Havre et de l’Estuaire de la Seine (AURH). AURH undertake studies and research on the management and development of its territory and consists of a multidisciplinary team whose fields of expertise include planning, travel and transport, economics, logistics and port development, landscape, habitat, population, environment, sustainable development, tourism, culture, mapping etc.
The group from Kingston University were welcomed by Dominique Dhervillez, Directeur General de l’AURH and further presentations were made on the port, the future of the port, the Seine Gateway – part of European project ‘WeastFlow’ – aiming to develop a sustainable network of logistic and freight transportation in north western Europe. Presentations outlined current qualities and opportunities plus potential and current strategies for Le Havre. Like the Thames Gateway which has created a new model of development from the world city of London to its coastline and its estuary, the Seine Gateway proposes a new model of development for Paris towards its river frontage and its Norman coastline.
The AURH team were able to identify those areas providing the greatest potential to the future development of Le Havre which would give scope for study during the students’ stay. They proposed an area between the city and the port scheduled for development and change recommending this area to the student as a site to base their projects and proposals. The AURH team referred to the port as a structural element of the surrounding landscape.
In March members of the AURH team – Thierry Lochard and Boris Menguy – returned to Kingston to take part in a student crit – reviewing strategic sites and design proposals. This offered the opportunity for close exchange between staff, students and the AURH representatives – an invaluable exchange in terms of information, clarity of purpose, specific site information and policy. This added value to the information and experience already obtained during the earlier site visit in January.
Landscape Interface Studio would like to thank AURH for all their support having supplied both students and staff with invaluable knowledge and information – both digital and hard copy. Our aspiration is to exhibit some of the final project proposals in Le Havre this September.