Treatment of collective spaces
- An urban landscape
Les collective spaces are designed on the principle of urban landscaping which incorporates significant elements of the traditional city to which local historical references are combined, preserved or restored, thus establishing a spatial and temporal continuity with the environment and the past of the places.
The natural declivity of the land allowed the spaces to be staggered on two levels.
The first, on the plateau to the east, overlooks the second, below, to the west.
1 - First level
The spatial arrangement, very studied, shows a large esplanade called Place Paul Cézanne which stretches and unfolds in front of building A and whose general shape is in echo to that of the ground. It is the gathering place of the social life of the city. In this it can be described asagora To the west, the shops of the shopping centre are located on the ground floor of building E.
It gives access to a terrace-belvedere called Terrasse Sainte-Victoire, exclusively designed to give residents a privileged view of the panorama of Sainte-Victoire mountain.
To the north-west of Place Paul Cézanne, there is the private enclave of Henri Beisson.
2 - Maintaining the Beisson Bastide
The bastide is an integral part of the visual panorama of the programme until 1967.
A binding servitude during the elaboration of the mass plan, it is at the completion of the program, in 1961, an element of singular scenery threatened. The bastide, an emblematic construction of the Aix countryside, is in total breach of scale and literally crushed by the dazzling modernity of the buildings that surround it and deprive it of any privacy. Voluntarily condemned, it disappeared during the year 1967, replaced by a modern building that houses a crèche.
3 - Second level
The square return configuration of buildings delimit four places : three, with varied atmospheres and dimensions called Place aux Herbes, Place du Moulin and Place de la Cascade, arranged in a row along the Place Paul Cézanne.
The fourth called Place de la Fontaine, of irregular rectangular plan, autonomous and eccentric to the north-west of the program, appears as an intimate space, almost introverted, protected by the U-shaped arrangement of the K buildings, L and M. The fountain that embellishes it recalls the design of the traditional squares of the historic downtown.
- Decorative treatments of floors
These decorations designed according to the modern principle ofGeometric abstraction are made with traditional and regional materials, varied: pebbles and gravel of the Durance, stone slabs of Fontvieille. Their implementations allow to play on the variations of textures: polished stone slabs reflect light, pebbles and gravel hang it.
The stone pavements have decorations based on the motif of the rhombus (place aux Herbes), the triangle (place du Moulin) or express scholarly compositions centered on the elementary forms of the square and the rectangle, arranged in dissymmetrical orthogonality (place de la Cascade, place de la Fontaine, terrace Sainte-Victoire).
These composition principles are inspired by the Neo-plasticism of the members of the Dutch movement De Stijl and are related to the pictorial work of Piet Mondrian.
The pebbles, omnipresent, are used in the form of mosaics that play on the alternation of triangular motifs and concentric circles. A material brought up to date in the years 1930-1950 by the architect Jean-Charles Moreux, and also used by Fernand Pouillon in the collective development of Two Hundred Units.
These pavements considered too "sumptuous and expensive" by the MRL for a program of Industrial sector, will be carried out in simplified forms excluding, in particular, pebble mosaics, replaced by more basic cladding of the type of gravel concrete slabs.
Today these decorations have unfortunately all disappeared under the tarmac, independently of the fact that some places have become parking areas (Place aux Herbes and low level of the Place de la Cascade).
- Plant treatment
The contribution of tree plantations the minerality of the treatment of collective spaces.
These planting areas are organized at the foot of the buildings and along the tracks in the form of massive hedges (laurel trees, charcoal, broom), tree alignments (parasol pines, acacias, olive trees, cypresses, hackberry trees, Judean trees, blue cedars, maples, plums, mulberry trees, etc.) or large monochrome flats made up of grassy slopes.
The inscription of the vegetated spaces arranged in a punctual way on the squares, is perfectly connected to the geometry of the modern treatment of the pavements; a subject illustrated by the program of the Place de la Cascade.
The Place Paul Cézanne is bordered, to the east, by an alignment of acacias, to the west, a double alignment of plane and maple mulberry trees that materializes a walk path interrupted at the level of the shopping center, in front of which are arranged in comma two large autonomous grassy flats, of soft forms, animated by laurel hedges.
Poor relative of the HLM programs, the variety of plantations of the City Beisson, attested by oral testimonies, is now an exception.
A second study of the plantations was carried out by the Technical Service of the city of Aix in 1967, after the destruction of the bastide. The existing trees are shown in yellow, the expected inputs in green.
The plan presents a redesign of Paul Cézanne Square. The comma disappears, replaced by a more conventional program that provides more extensive grassy spaces. The newly integrated plot is enriched by the addition of trees.
- The fluidity of pedestrian traffic
Les pedestrian traffic to connect the two levels and the different places, are organized by a succession of paths punctuated by stairs or ramps delimited according to the slopes of the ground by retaining walls .
The staircase that connects Place aux Herbes to Place du Moulin is treated in a monumental way.
Des porticos and underpasses punctuated with pillars of square sections are planned to give transparency and strengthen the fluidity of the circulations avoiding the bypass of the buildings to reach the parking areas, the different squares and the Sainte-Victoire Terrace.
At the thresholds of the buildings the sidewalks are covered with stone slabs, a detail that accentuates the exceptional quality of the pedestrian developments.
- Opening up to car traffic and its consequences
Originally designed to be a fully pedestrian space, Place Paul Cézanne is equipped with a car trafficfrom 1962. It is open to the northeast of the program, grafted on Avenue Raymond Poincaré and runs along the square in its western part to the shops of the mall.
Gradually extended, it now borders the entire square. The green lawns and acacias alignments at the foot of Building A quickly gave way to parking areas, a phenomenon that can be found today on almost all the squares and pedestrian traffic of the initial project.
- Street lighting
Thestreet lighting is provided by large neo-balloon lamp candelabra, arranged at regular intervals along the pedestrian and car routes. Additional lighting is provided in the form of sconces on the ground floor of the buildings.
- The main entrance
Themain entrance of the city is located to the north, on the avenue Raymond Poincaré. It is staged in a monumental way by a porch in work arranged under the building M whose symmetrical composition refers to classicism: a central lane lined with two pedestrian aisles scanned with twin pillars reminiscent of double columns.
- Preserved vestige
Embedded in the heart of the program, the Place du Moulin, as its name suggests, highlights the only remaining remnant of Dr.Beisson’s domain.
The desire to preserve this symbol of the past characteristic of the old agricultural function of the places, appears from the beginning of the project. During the restoration work undertaken at the end of the construction site the mill is frozen in its state of ruin.
- Returned remains
All of the retaining walls are erected in large stone appliances of various dimensions, punctuated by false tears that hang the light and give them the appearance of ancient vestiges by simulating ruins. A clear desire for the program to take root, which demonstrates the architect’s deep interest in local history.
These powerful walls recall the ruins of Entremont located not far from there and seem to want to inscribe the city on the mythical place of the founding of the city of Aix.
Although tinged with this historicist reference, the composition scheme of the stones remains modern, based on the alternation of various pose techniques (horizontal seating, relief or hollow stones, random implementation). The aesthetic aspect also refers to the treatment of the facades of the Cité universitaire des Gazelles Fernand Pouillon, recently built (1955-1959).
- Social facilities
1 - The shopping centre
The shops of the shopping mall on the ground floor of Building E (a butcher’s shop, a drugstore, a bakery, a stationery and a general supply) are sheltered from the sun and rain by a portico formed by a concrete slab supported by thin metal posts.
They supply the residents but also benefit the inhabitants of the neighborhood.
The shopping centre, on a city-wide scale, by its strategic positioning on the main square, is a comfort equipment that saves time and shows great solidarity with the housewife. We regret its disappearance today, the entire building E is decommissioned, the latter to be destroyed as part of the rehabilitation underway.
2 - Nursery school
In December 1961, a nursery school was set up in prefabricated buildings north of Place Paul Cézanne. The final school called Lauves kindergarten is built at the location of the north car parks, at the rear of building O. Today, the new Aix-Nord socio-cultural centre (inaugurated in February 2010) occupies these premises.
3 - Leisure facilities
A children’s play area is planned in the northwest of the programme, at the rear of buildings J and K, at the site originally reserved for the construction of the school. Its positioning is deliberately set back in order to limit noise pollution.
 The Agora in ancient Greece designates the main square of the polite (the city), the gathering place of theecclesia (the citizens' assembly) where the city market is held, among other things.
 The original physiognomy of the crib disappeared behind successive additions to the initial volume.
 A form of artistic expression born in the early twentieth century, often non-figurative, based on the use of geometric shapes and colours arranged in a two-dimensional space.
 Access is now considered the city’s main access.
 Today, the entrance is located at the junction between Raymond Poincaré Avenue and René Coty Street.
 A memorial approach that probably stems from the current events of the first major excavations carried out on the site of Entremont by archaeologist Fernand Benoit between 1946 and 1969, and widely disseminated by the regional media of the time.