A landscape for the future: the Thomsen plant in Guyancourt

In a very similar way, Desvigne & Dalnoky have created a concept for the Thomsen plant in Guyancourt near Paris. The project required them to prepare an inhospitable landscape for the construction of a factory and a parking lot for a thousand cars in a very short time at minimal cost. Facto­ries generally have a limited life span, no more than decades – the span of time a garden needs to fully ripen. The landscape architects envision that the vegetation around the buildings will have developed fully by the time the buildings are ready to be torn down. “Our desire is to plan all stages of development and to allow them to be experienced during the lifespan of the industrial complex and beyond” (Desvigne and Dalnoky 1994: 22).

For the first stage of the factory site, drainage ditches are laid and planted with willow and poplar groups. Because these pioneer species grow quickly, a dense vegetation develops rapidly on the site: the first evi­dence of a new landscape. In later stages, saplings of large trees will be planted in the poplar groups. During the first 15 years of their growth, the little plants will hardly be noticeable; later they will overtake the poplar and willow pioneers. In addition, plantings of black pine and about 100 free-standing conifers will be added. While the fast-growing poplars quickly envelop the factory buildings, the slow-growing pines come to de­fine the character of the landscape much later. “Only hints of the first planting will be recognizable when a park with choice plantings emerges at the time the factory buildings are demolished” (Desvigne and Dalnoky 1994: 23).