The French town of Longueville, Seine-et-Marne is located 77 km SE of Paris, it can be reached by commuter train only 45 minutes from Gare de l’Est. The medieval town of Provins lies 7 km to the north. The lush gardens of Fontainbleau are one hour away. Moet & Chandon is only 90 km NE. This is the heart of Brie country: Chateau Thierry, Brie-comte-Robert, Coulommiers, Crecy-la-chapelle & Nangis. The train museum in Longueville has a maintenance carousel and shed housing many antique carriages and steam engines.
The 18 acre (7.5 hectares) site houses a multitude of industrial brick and metal buildings which were once a factory specializing in copper and PVC tubing. The site has been abandoned for almost a decade. The northeastern edge of the property faces the train station and is the highest elevation in the site. The land stretches more that 400 meters to the southwest, where it reaches its lowest point (12 meters below the station level).
The owners propose the complete removal of the existing buildings. Over the years, the factory discharge affected the soil inadvertently. Although the test reports did not condemn the site by any means, a top rate toxic cleanup will occur in order to ensure that the air and soil quality are of the highest standards – suitable for its future residents.
Long lost to the advent of the automobile, architecture has often given in to false efficiencies of the industrial age. Short sighted urban developers often prioritized traffic patterns at the expense of pedestrians’ social space. Consequently, light, air and most importantly green space gave in to asphalt. Inspired by the neighboring medieval village of Provins, with its formidable ramparts and public squares, Koder opted for the central courtyard system. The lessons of Provins proved crucial in implementing such ideas. The Longueville buildings edge the street for commercial and vehicular access while always wrapping around open courtyards.
The proposed scheme divides the site into two principal uses; namely commercial and residential. At its highest point, the site is entirely dedicated to commercial activities. The four-star 28 room hotel will face the train station. Its lobby and ballroom connect to a vast interior courtyard. Along the side of the hotel, a belvedere will serve as a lookout point towering over the site and giving reference to residents and visitors. Retail spaces erected along the perimeter share the central courtyard with the hotel. A restaurant and art gallery bordering city hall and its World War I monument is located at the far side of the courtyard; thus weaving commercial and governmental activities within the same public open space.
This retail configuration is also repeated throughout the commercial portion of the project. More than one hundred ateliers are housed on the floors above and look onto the central courtyards. A clinic with an emergency room and ten patient rooms is fully equipped to handle emergencies of severe nature. A heliport to help evacuate patients is located on its roof.
The residential portion of the project covers more than 75% of the total site. It is 12 meters below the upper commercial area. This drop in elevation gives the residential area a quieter character and more privacy from the train station and the various commercial activities.
The proposed 700 residential units are arranged in linear and sinuous “bar” buildings. As a result, public space is created in two distinct patterns: The urban street and the square. Composed in a non-parallel formation, the space between the bars evokes an urban street scale with the necessary car access. The street is lined with trees and hedges giving privacy to its front yards. Residents on the upper floors are able to communicate with each other from their windows. Secondly, a vast interior square is embedded within the sinuous buildings giving the visitor an element of surprise. This square is lined with two dozen hot tubs, and at its center a multipurpose building rises: A gymnasium with vast recreational and Olympic size swimming pools, a 100 seat restaurant above, and a library and theater atop. There are three other restaurants flanking the square, an Orangerie and two petanque courses. The total built-up area is 1.5 Million square feet.