In the rich urban context of the city of Neuchâtel, on a topography shaped by the old vineyards, the “Collège des Parcs” was built in 1914. This emblematic site of the city is part of the ISOS inventory with the objective of safeguarding “A”, requiring an increased and precise look in order to tackle the issues that constitute the development of this project.
The existing school with its strong presence with a massive white rock base and an attic carefully designed in “Hauterive” stone is part of the heritage and history of Neuchâtel. One
of the main challenges is to showcase it and increase its visibility. The stone retaining wall to the south is one of the highlights of the site, the massive aspect of which must be preserved.
However, the current provision does not allow regulatory access to fire engines. The pretext of renovating the square is an opportunity to dispense with the exemption currently in force
by installing a regulatory ramp ensuring the safety of the building’s occupants in the event of a fire.
The site, although presenting a beautiful alignment of trees at the level of the lower playground, consists exclusively of mineral and impermeable coating. It would be wise to
reverse this situation by giving importance to generous green spaces allowing the project to be part of a sustainable approach.
In order to respond to the various challenges mentioned above, the “jardin d’éveil” project offers a planted walk from the “rue de la Côte” to the garden below open to the sports halls.
By reversing the ramp system, it is possible to make a hollow in the volume of the base to establish the garden. This device considerably increases the visibility of the south facade of
the existing building from the rue des parcs. The stone wall retains its massive side but its design becomes subtle with a cross play of two lines, the one rising, from the ramp wall and the falling one, from the garden wall.
The promenade planted with trees in the ground, is a smooth and continuous transition in the topography. It rests on a stone wall along its entire length to the west and north, and is
one of the major assets of the project.
The sunken garden would tend, if possible, towards the conservation of existing trees which would be re-planted. The whole favors essences of fruit trees and aromatic plants with the
establishment of a vegetable garden maintained in collaboration with the children of the school. The ground surface allows a significant permeability of the grounds with a surface covered with grass and elements in grassed concrete slab allowing a serene crossing