Atop the Gare Montparnasse, Ave. de Vaugirard and Ave du Maine
Submitted by: Anthony Miller
A neighborhood park/roofgarden.
Built as a response to 1970's Parisian renewal projects, the park is a little less than 4 hectares, with an inner lawn area of approximately 1 hectare. The park is an inward looking park, completely surrounded by buildings. It is an axial composition with the main axis running east to west, and can be divided into five thematic areas: tennis courts and boardwalk, the main lawn and water play area, the children's playground, the reflective garden rooms, and the dunes. The whole park can be walked through, unlike most Parisian parks, and while on paper the layout is very axial, the planting, mounding and other level changes serve to create a variety of spaces with an intimate, human scale feeling.
The park's 'specialness' is its sense of being apart from the very city that surrounds it. It serves this densely populated part of the 15th Arrondisement as a neighborhood park, drawing the diverse local population to it as well as serving as the outdoor space for local schools. It is in almost constant use throughout the year, as weather permits, and in summer the central area is a mass of people watching or being part of the water play that surrounds the Meteorological station.
What Makes Jardin Atlantique a Great Place?
Access to the park is from within the station (three places), and from Rue de Cat, Rue Mouchotte, Boulevard de Vaugirard and Boulevard Pasteur. People who enter from the station usually do so from curiosity or boredom while they wait for their trains. Most of the park's users access it from the streets either by stairs or elevators that sit on the street, away from the station. There are a number of public buses that serve the area, as well as the Montparnasse Metro station. The paths within the park are all handicap accessible and are well maintained by the city.
On arrival, the park is open, well maintained, and primarily filled with mothers, nannies and children, as well as elderly pensioners. It is possible to seat as many as 490 people comfortably on the park's benches Ė this does not include seating along the boardwalk, or on the granite edges of the park's tree pits, or the many slopes formed within the lawn area. Benches are at two levels to accommodate children and adults, and they are found throughout the park. The park is extremely well maintained with a daily cleaning by the Paris park department's staff. There are more than sufficient litterbins and the lighting is excellent. Due to its location there are no vehicles. The park has a minimum of one security person at any one time during the park's day (8:30 a.m. to sunset.)
The space is in almost constant use from morning to night, with the exception of inclement weather. The park caters to both solitary and communal activities. The tennis courts, because they are at a lower level, don't always appear to be in use, but they are linked to a health club on the lower level and are very much in demand. All parts of the park are used.
This is THE meeting place for many people in the local community. The park is a true neighborhood park, and the diversity of the neighborhood is reflected in the park's users. Those people that I observed came in groups, separately smiling, talking, etc. This is very much a happy place.