Agence APS: Devil’s bridge which is at the heart of the Big Site is full of history and culture. It is a place of age-old landscapes listed in the world heritage by UNESCO as part of Saint Jacques de Compostelle’s road.
Located at the mouth of the Herault gorges, Devil’s Bridge enjoys an outstanding location. It is situated between hilly garrigues (scrublands), lush forests and wine producing plains. The site still enjoys a very natural aesthetic appeal with light grey limestone rock, outstretching forests and natural bodies of water, beaches and rich riverbank vegetation…
Our inspiration for this architectural and landscaping creation comes from all these observations:
-the footbridge is technologically reliable, refined, organic and unpretentious.
-The Site’s Building plays on the idea of « disappearance », withdrawal and dissolution.
-The landscape project is in line with an approach which is respectful of the site’s identity.
It is the opportunity for enabling a global and coherent project to meet the scale of the site’s huge beauty and its emblematic characteristics.
On the left bank of the Hérault, the alluvial terrace-land, once planted with vines, is today a vast area of meadow and afforestation on the edge of the river. The grass is cut, some trees are removed to avoid the total closure of the space. A few white oaks, ash and alder trees are planted to enrich the plant palette.
The large pine esplanade connects the House of the Site to the bus shelter of the shuttle. This space of transition and relaxation is planted with large Aleppo pines that bring a necessary shade to the visitors of the site in summer.
The vineyards and olive groves that contribute to the charm of the place, are also part of today’s economic reality and are an integral part of the project. These rural areas provide the stitch with the new site layout and ensure a peaceful image, an achievement in the surroundings of the site.
The main path starts from the parking areas, runs past the House of the Site and continues towards the Devil’s Bridge. It is accessible to people with reduced mobility (PRMs).
This lookout path is like a balcony over the valley, it offers distant perspectives as well as close ones onto the Devil’s Bridge and onto the footbridge.
Between the house of the Site and the footbridge, the path is highlighted by a retaining wall made of limestone rubble. This wall already existed in the past and you can still see some flanges. It stands as a witness of a certain know-how of the elders with the materials of the site. The 1.50 m high wall supports the terrace planted with olive trees.
The parking areas are divided into three pockets, three terraces that gradually sink into the extended boundaries of the former quarry.
The three terraces are sloping towards the river and terraced every 2 meters from each other. Between the higher point of the car park and the lower point, there is an eight-meter difference in height.
As a result, parking areas have no visual impact on the site.
The outskirts, embankments and spaces between the rows of cars are planted with local varieties of trees: white oaks, holm oaks, ash trees and Aleppo pines.
As soon as they leave their vehicles, visitors are guided on a large path that leads directly to the beaches of the Hérault. This definite road invites strollers to enjoy the most popular freshwater bathing site in the department.
The path follows an existing freshwater resurgence that is protected from excessive use by a low wall used as a bench and associated with rush plantations.
Short office name: Agence APS
Role of the office in the project: landscape designers
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Rudy Ricciotti (architecture), Cap vert (engineering), Studio Totem (design)
Project location: Aniane, France
Design year: 2007
Year Built: 2009
Client: Herault’s valley country council
Area: 100.000 m²
Budget : 6.000.000 EUR (pre-tax)