La place des savonniers
Mediator - Sylvie Amar
Supporters - Fondation de France, Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Conseil Général des Bouches du Rhône, Caisse des dépôts et consignations
Peynier, Bouche-du-Rhône, 2002-2005
Peynier is a village of 3000 inhabitants, about forty kilometers from Marseilles. A block of ruined buildings, located in the center of the village, has been the site of various daily annoyances. Residents in the surrounding neighborhoods banded together to request that this uninhabitable area be turned into a public park. They wished to participate in the creation of a square that would encourage exchange and neighborliness. The project had to keep in mind a global understanding of the village's overall lay out as well as its future evolution.
Alexandre Chemetoff designed a living-room square, a space for private or group relaxation. He installed a vine arbour made of bamboo, under which he placed a large table designed for small neighborhood get-togethers as well as larger festivities. Three almond trees were also planted. These traditional Provencal region trees bring shade in the summer and let the sun through in the winter.
The development of the square was conceived by the artist as a village living-room, in keeping with the modest dimensions of the site. An architectural vocabulary will be introduced which will be repeated on all public spaces in the village. To create an inviting place, Chemetoff intends to install an arbour with a trellis overhanging a bench and a table, bordered by almond trees which are traditional to Provence. As the houses adjoining the square are very close to it, their façades will be livened up (pots of flowers, benches by the threshold, shutters...) in such a way as to evoke the link between the private sphere and public area. As water is a vital element of a public square, Chemetoff also intends to make water feature as widely as possible in the village.
Alexandre Chemetoff was born Paris in 1950. He studied at the école Nationale Supérieure d'Horticulture de Versailles (National Horticulture school in Versailles) in 1970 (landscape architecture, garden landscaping and art section). He has worked independently since 1975 and created the Bureau des Paysages (Office of Landscapes) in 1983. Since 2000, he has opened three organizations: the Atelier de l'Ile de Nantes, the Atelier Alexandre Chemetoff and the Bureau Alexandre Chemetoff. He received the Grand Prix in Urban Planning in 2000. In 2003, he was named honorary member of the Royal Institute of British Architects.