Europan 10 Competition

The Jeunes Rives

Location: Neuchatel (CH)
Year: 2010
with: Arch. Ilenia Paesani
Status: competition entry

The Jeunes Rives is a remarkable location connecting the downtown area of Neuchâtel to the lake and surrounded by the astonishing scenario of the Alps. Nevertheless, a large part of the site is destined to car parking which gives a perception of the place as an unpleasant residual ares. As of today, the Jeunes Rives shows different attitudes: it is a place where people like to spend their time for relaxing, for leisure, for sports but it’s taken away from the pedestrians‘ use and enjoyment.
The Jeunes Rives’ nature of reclaimed area deeply shapes the idea that the population has of the site: a place that belongs to them, that they created for themselves and for which they worked very hard. These above mentioned are some of the several implications we considered while proceeding with the design.



The Jeunes Rive is the only wide area within the city of Neuchâtel that provides direct continual access to the lake, which is a strong city symbol and moreover the main leisure ground preferred by the Neuchâtelois. The substantial potentials that this condition brings are the main priorities of the revitalization project of the site, which first of all addresses the issues of connection and mobility.
It is therefore a design priority to potentiate - or establish where missing - those physical and visual connections between the city and the lake. The old port is converted to an inviting pedestrian area, equipped with green, market zone, small shops and café’. The old port memory is preserved through the area design and the water pools that actually recall the port harbors shape. The old port plaza will work as a link between the Jeunes Rives and Neuchâtel’s city center. Neuchâtel is provided with a new port, outer in the lake, both commercial and touristic.
The east end of the harbor hosts a leisure building with cinema, disco, restaurant, café, a panoramic terrace toward the Alps. A building surrounded by water.
This design gesture also allows to reconnect in a more natural way the lake promenades at east and west of the old port.

Another big input is represented by the North-South connections. What happens between the site and the city is a sudden break: Rue Leopold Robert is a half boulevard with a South side made up of a low wall facing a 2.00 m jump over the Jeunes Rives. The project aims to complete the boulevard, creating a filter line of mixed-use buildings (commercial/residential) which also serve as a smooth thoroughfare: the users can often descend to the park within the building or using the outside  stairs  and ramps.


A good quality urban space devoted to pedestrian use has to comply to three specific issues: protection, comfort, enjoyment.
The project responds by providing a variety of atmospheres and a rich experience to users of all ages of the Jeunes Rives park: families, children, adults, young ppl, elderly .
From east to west several multistory buildings for public uses are laid down in a renewed landscape. Sport facilities (indoor basket, volley, squash and badminton; pools and wellness) and a research building are the closest to the university.
Moving towards the city, the congress and event building contribute to create a unique experience on the festival plaza, as the core of the new park. The water stage completes this atmosphere providing performances directly on the water that the audience can watch from the stage itself, but also from the coast or from boats. The stage is a movable object that can be dragged by the tugboats.
At ground level, all the building are provided with café, restaurant and public activities that activate also the park.

The buildings’ architecture aims to amplify the personal experience: most part of the ground levels are glazed so that the park and the building become a unified entity and the users can perceive the building as part of the park rather than objects laid on the park.

Several winter gardens provides with green space inside the buildings (basket, congress, leisure), which improve the architectural quality but also helps in managing the interior microclimate.
The Beaulac Hotel has the best location to be converted into a tourist service building.
The surrounding landscape, made of different green areas, shaded areas, water features is given to the population of Neuchâtel as a basic playground that they can shape, personalize and use as they like during the years, the seasons, the different occasions.
Large areas are provided for streets festivals, green devoted zones for citizen gardens or occasional leisure and relaxation.
At the most south coast line the beaches for the people of Neuchâtel is remodeled and equipped with services and features.


The mild climate, relatively high solar insolation, and geothermal potential of Junes Rives make it an excellent site for a low to no carbon community. An integrated building energy strategy consisting of active and passive measures is designed to minimize energy consumption without sacrificing occupant comfort. Natural ventilation, thermal mass, radiant ceilings, well insulated facades and daylighting act in concert to reduce energy consumption as well as size and cost of mechanical systems.

Radiant ceilings connected to a reversible geothermal heat pump provide heating and cooling capacity.
Photovoltaic panels and solar thermal collectors provide electricity and hot water.

Green roofs further reduce the cooling needs of buildings. They also reduce heat island effect and provide a pleasing appearance.