In the rapidly growing suburbs west of Paris, a new 280-acre park will mediate between houses and the still-wild coast of this part of the Seine river.
Le Parc du Peuple de l’Herbe (“Park of the People of the Grass”) is a landscape made for recreation, with a five-building museum devoted to the study of insects. Created on a former industrial waste site, the park represents more than environmental reclamation; it also holds a vast amount of open space in trust for community use, and serves the nearby residential areas it’s meant to buffer.
The park’s perimeter is marked by an “active strip” of bicycling routes, walking paths, and areas for playing sports. The river is accessible via boardwalks and outdoor seating, even as the banks of the river are designed to promote the growth of native vegetation. The interior of the park is crisscrossed by paths that navigate around natural meadows, formal plantings, and two ponds.
Arguably, the crown jewel of the park is its fanciful Insect Museum, made up of light-filled structures resembling both barns and suburban tract houses. The buildings were also designed to appear to float, evoking the river barges that have famously traveled the Seine for centuries.
As Chris Foges writes in Architectural Record, the park and museum “fuse the pragmatic and the playful, the strange and the familiar—mak[ing] sensitive connections to a landscape that is itself hybrid, responding to the city and the river, and blending controlled cultivation and wild nature.”
To read more about Le Parc du Peuple de l’Herbe, see this article in Architectural Record. To see more photos of the opening of the park, visit the Flickr album of the Conseil départemental des Yvelines.