Recently I wrote an article for Gardens and People on Bernard Lassus and his extraordinary (and never-realised) proposals for the Jardins des Tuileries. I struggle to describe the range and depth of Lassus’s design interests, from suburban cottage gardens and motorway landscapes to historic restoration, reinvented housing estates and contemporary parks. Now in his eighties, Lassus is lecturing in Paris later this month, although sadly I shall be elsewhere.
But most weeks I walk through one of his designs, at Rond Point on the Champs-Elysées. Deceptively simple, Lassus’s idea was to construct raised banks of flower beds on the six separate sections of the traffic circle. This allowed motorists to grasp the geometric form of the junction from inside the circle, while also creating a private space for pedestrians on the outside, in the shade of the horse chestnut trees, between the rear of the banks and the surrounding buildings.
He proposed the design in 1981 (almost 30 years ago) and it is still maintained by the City of Paris. At the moment it is planted attractively with grasses and autumnal chrysanthemums on the inner slope, with pansies for the pedestrians on the outside.
It is a pleasure to experience Lassus, with his grand schemes and challenging philosophies, somehow encapsulated in this simple reshaping of the terrain at a busy traffic junction.