Author(s): Amiot Lombard architectes

La Plaine parking and esplanade renovation Cachan

The program was intended to restore the utility of this deserted site, make the parking lot “usable” again by improving its comfort, appearance, and safety. An “unremarkable” program for a neighbourhood of housing towers in the outer Parisian suburbs. No ANRU (French National Urban Renewal Agency) financing (this was before that was implemented!) and its slate of demolitions, but a budget allowing a re-purposing of what already existed, a simple restoration of use value for the residents in a disadvantaged area, although one near the capital.

The La Plaine market esplanade is nothing but a roof over the parking area. The vacuousness of the space and the highly deteriorated surfacing, made the area uncomfortable and in poor condition. New pathways for the nursery school nearby enhanced its use. Six large trees were planted to mitigate the “barrenness” of the space.

The parking area presented users with a disastrous image and a strong feeling of insecurity: significant leaks, notoriously insufficient natural and artificial light, almost no ventilation, and foul odours… One accessed each parking level from four exterior ramps, on an easement with the public area.

The first part of the project was to create an internal ramp, freeing up the public space. Thus, the new access is on one level, identified by a lacquered sheet steel awning. The facade freed of this major constraint was completely redesigned and the square levelled for pedestrians.

The prefab concrete full facade that the municipality had attempted to conceal with plants until now, was replaced with a wood slat fence, allowing plentiful air and light to enter. The section of the slats (80×40 mm) and the species used (lapacho) were carefully designed to provide security against intrusion, resistance to vandalism, and in particular fire safety. This facade constructed of wooden framework is thick and of an open design, it provides natural light and ventilation. The visual and acoustic relationship between parking area and public space helps minimise the sense of insecurity felt in sunken, closed spaces.

Creating a single entrance and a connecting ramp between the two parking levels was part of a succession of covered passageways composed of corrugated steel sheet components, lacquered in bright colours (red) and with horizontal openings allowing lines of sight. These structures allow clear visual identification.

The ground was painted a uniform carmine red as were the walls and posts around the edge, up to the middle of their height. On the rest of the structure, the hollow concrete of the initial construction was preserved as is.

Function : Parking rehabilitation and slab