« Hello Jacques, it is nice of you to pick me up.
- You are welcome. Is it the first time you come to Le Havre ?
- Yes. But I’ve heard a lot about it since its classification as a World Heritage Site. The urban composition, the golden triangle, the « key » constructions, the plan in checkerboard shape, the reinforced concrete…
- You will see, my district is in line with the work of Perret. Let us take my car.
- Ha ! Car, pollution, noise pollutions and then turn and turn again to find a parking space … Don’t you ever take public transport ?
- No. My district is very badly served. But, you’ll see, these problems do not exist there ».

Jacques told me that he lives in one of these new « sustainable districts ». What a strange name. I wonder what it means. Does it mean green… ?
I follow on with a terrible platitude :
« Le Havre is a very much polluted city, no ? I read that there were quite a lot of problems of pollution with sulphur dioxide in the last years.
- It is an old-time story in our district. Ha ! We arrive. »

The first thing I notice are these high white buildings that seem dressed in concrete laces. A lace whose holes are animated by a light vibration. I question Jacques :
« What surprising constructions ! What it is ?
- We call them Green Machines. Among other things, they are our car parks. Wind generators constitute the facades that you see. Thus, the wind of Le Havre supplies an important quantity of electricity in the district ».
Jacques makes right and I am astonished to discover that the other face of the building is a huge vertical garden that soaks into a long tank.
Amused by my surprise, Jacques keeps on :
« Our Green Machines are also air and water processing plants. The bio-filtering gardens of the roof and of the facade filter polluting matters such as the sulphur dioxide, the carbon monoxide, the carbon dioxide and the various airborne particles due to the fossil fuel consumption. »
He smiles : « parks here are vertical, or suspended. If you are interested, educational guided tours are organized in the floor of water supply ».
He put the car on a lifting platform that takes us to the eighth floor, where he parks it. Then, we take the pedestrian way along the green facade.
« Look, my flat is just there. »
I look through the porthole piercing the vegetation.
« Don’t you have a garage in your building ?
- There is not. The groundwater is too high. Moreover, the new streets are reserved first and foremost for the pedestrians and the cycles. It is much more pleasant.
- You do not have a cellar either ?
- No, I rent one of the containers of the Green Machine to store my old furniture. Furthermore, it is more practical to tinker. »
We take one of the panoramic elevators while he keeps on the presentation of his district :
« Ariane works in this small tower of offices that has the shape of an industrial silo, over there, in front of the tank. Its southern facade is almost completely constituted by photovoltaic cells. And you see, her boss bought a house in front of the reservoir. Not bad eh ! »
I can only agree.
« Don’t worry, we are also well accommodated. You will notice that the height of buildings decreases southward, it allows buildings in the North to take advantage of the sight and the sun.
- Ha yes, I had not noticed. And I see that all the roofs are planted.
- Yes, these are semi-collective gardens. »

We take one of the pedestrian streets in front of Green Machine. As a kid, I take a real pleasure to walk in the middle of the street. The ground floors of buildings, near the public road, are dedicated to small shops and premises for various businesses, social activities or clubs. Children play with a ball. I had forgotten what a district without cars was.
Less than sixty metres to be crossed between his car and his accommodation, as Jacques said, « it is not so difficult. »
The ways that we cross give us long perspectives on the quay to my left and on the city to the right. We follow a brick-built building that seems oldest that the others.
« Here we are ! »
In front of me, I can see a small three-floors building, regularly drilled by profound vegetable greenhouses that allow seeing the sky.

Sustainable district. I think of having understood what it means : district where I shall live durably !

Project : Green Machines / Location : Le Havre, France / Client : Europan / Project Area : 115 000 sqm / Architects : Laetitia Delubac and Christian Félix architects, Paris, France