Fort Saint-Jean

2nd Prize:
Fort Saint-Jean (Lyon, France)

Fort Saint-Jean perches on an imposing rocky spur on the gorge of the Saône River in Lyon. This 16th century military fortress now hosts the National School of the Public Treasury.

The new constructions of Vurpas & Associates integrate smoothly into the fortress, employing the vocabulary of terraces, fortifications and walls. Here the landscape design by Atelier In Situ further improves the quality of the site and the benefits that it offers for the city. At the centre of the parade grounds, paved with limestone, three elms frame the principal entry. On the roof of the new restaurant, laid out as a balcony over the city, a Mediterranean garden opens the view. It is composed of several lines of low, flowering evergreen shrubs and scented perennials.

The “wall-walk” connects the terraces and creates a number of contrasting mineral and vegetal environments: the central place is dominated by stone, luminous and sunny; the fortress garden has a woodland environment beneath the foliage of the existing plane trees; the redoubt features pines and Judas trees; the library gardens use soapberry bushes and a carpet of grasses; a high footbridge functions as a trellis where the wisteria clings; the low terraces feature rustic flowered meadows, fig trees and hollyhocks. These look-out gardens marry the geometry and military rigour of the fortifications with spaces of a wilder nature.