Besançon, Study of landscaping to enhance Vauban’s fortifications

Town of Besançon - 12 months (July 2009 to June2010)


A unique, natural setting

Besançon enjoys a rare and distinctive geographical setting with a chain of hills along the

RiverDoubsthat are part of the last anticlinal fold of the western limit of the Jura mountain range.

The strategic importance of the site was noticed at an early date. The Citadel was constructed on part of the anticline isolated from the rest of the fold by two magnificent transverse valleys resulting from the river eroding the limestone rock. A third of the land in the Besançon region consists of forest, unspoiled natural areas and parkland.

A comprehensive landscaping project

Because of this specific setting, it is essential to consider the complexities arising from the juxtaposition of fortified heritage and natural landscape. Therefore, vegetation was removed from the outset in order to open up the view over the Besançon landscape in a reciprocal way, creating mutual visibility. This vegetation clearing is now underpinned by a framework of coherent landscape development with different goals and other modes of action.

The landscaping study

These different goals are based on the study of landscaping to enhance the fortifications of Vauban carried out from July 2009 to June 2010 by the Aline Le Coeur Landscape Architects at the request of the town of  Besançon.

The Study covered the Citadel, the urban areas of the Boucle and the Battant quarters and the "buffer zone". On completion of the survey, the Town was presented with a two- part document comprising an analytic assessment and different proposals for solutions, namely:

  • controlling vegetation in the vicinity of the fortifications – conservation,
  • improving the legibility of the fortifications - view points, a high walkway,
  • problem areas whose current form and use spoil the enhancement of the buildings - the place of the car and pedestrians,
  • controlling urbanization - cone-shaped vistas, land issues.