Urban Soil: An asset for the sustainable city

21 May 2021

A new EIVP / ECT conference: “Urban Soil: an asset for the city of tomorrow”

Within the context of the business chair “Upcycling Soil from Urban Construction Sites”, the École des Ingénieurs de la Ville de Paris (the City of Paris School of Engineering) and ECT organised a new conference on 22 and 23 June, in partnership with the École Nationale Supérieure du Paysage (the national landscape gardening school at Versailles) and with the participation of Cycle Terre. It was an opportunity for ECT and the EIVP to deepen and communicate a thought process which places soil at the heart of various aspects of the current debate on the sustainable city: 

  • As a driver for the rehabilitation of derelict sites
  • As a defining element for new landscape in the regions
  • As a construction material that respects the environment
  • As an essential element in the urban integration of green spaces of varying kinds, and of biodiversity.

A multi-disciplinary approach to the benefit of the sustainable city

These different aspects suggest that urban soil can turn a new and positive approach into reality. They are part of the policy of the sustainable city. With the twin approaches of economising on resources and re-using materials in a way that respects the environment. A wide variety of theoretical and historical approaches were considered, and national, international and Île-de-France examples given by way of illustration.

These four half-days advocated the development of a multidisciplinary approach combining urban engineering, ecological engineering, town planning and landscaping.


Land, Soil and the Sustainable City – part 1 of 2

  • Conference opened by L. Mogno (chairman of ECT) and F. Jung (director of the EIVP)
  • Overview of the conference and of the business chair ‘Upcycling Urban Soil’: Antoine Grumbach (AG Territoires) and Youssef Diab (manager of the ‘Upcycling Urban Soil’ chair at the EIVP, lecturer in urban engineering, Université Gustave Eiffel)
  • For a ‘circular economy’ in land use: Marc Kaszynski (chairman of LIFTI)
  • Support biodiversity with made-land developments: Bernard Chevassus-au-Louis (biologist, chairman of Humanité & Biodiversité)
  • The innovative ‘circular economy’ model for excavated soils: Laurent Mogno, chairman of ECT
  • Re-using soil in support of urban revitalisation: The Al-Azhar Park in Cairo, Christophe Bouleau (senior conservation officer, Aga Khan Trust for Culture)

Making Landscape; a positive impression of the place of excavated soil (in partnership with the École Nationale Supérieure de Paysage, the French national school of landscape gardening)

  • Building Landscape: A short history of earthworks and landscaping, Michel Audouy (lecturer at the ENSP)
  • Fabricated Hills: Gaalad Van Daele (architect and researcher, ETH Zürich, editor of Accattone magazine)
  • Inert soil: opportunities for making landscape, Loïc Pianfetti (head of the Paysage & Biodiversité department, SNCF Networks)
  • Round-table discussion between urban engineering and landscape, between a landscape architect, Henri Bava; an architect, Antoine Grumbach; and two researchers, Mathieu Fernandez, engineer and historian; and Hong Zhu, landscape architect
  • Conclusion by Vincent Piveteau (director of the ENSP) and Youssef Diab

Soil as a material: The Cycle Terre project (an Urban Innovative Action)

  • Soil, a living material for constructing a town: Jean Dethier, architect, author of ‘The Art of Earth Architecture: Past, Present, Future’; commentaries by Romain ANGER, engineer (Amaco).
  • Presentation and progress report for Cycle Terre, an Urban Innovative Action (UIA): Silvia Devescovi (project officer for the Cycle Terre project, Ville de Sevran); Magali Castex (project officer for Cycle Terre, Grand Paris Aménagement)
  • Reproducing the Cycle Terre model/approach, and securing its future: Question and answer session, Sophie Schlewitz (Quartus).
  • Reactions of two key observers: Raffaele Barbato (coordinator of UIA projects) and François Ménard (scientific director, PUCA)
  • Conclusion of the morning by Benoist Apparu (chairman of the board of In’li)

Land, Soil and the Sustainable City – part 2 of 2

  • Dynamics of the worsening landscape situation in the industrial section of the Meuse valley around Liége : Reclaiming degraded land is a central issue for the region. Joël PRIVOT (architect and town planner, consultant and researcher at the Université de Liège)
  • The art of the urban hedgehog. Diplomacy and sharing the basis of life. Nicolas Gilsoul (Architect, science PhD, landscape architect and lecturer at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Malaquais.)
  • Urban soils, a fertile and durable base: Jacqueline Osty (landscape architect, winner of the Grand prix de l’Urbanisme 2020)
  • New approaches to make town planning sustainable: Thinking from humanities & social sciences meets thinking from nature in a dialogue between Luc Abbadie (ecologist, professor at the Sorbonne University) and Alain Bourdin (sociologist and town planner, professor at the Université Gustave Eiffel)
  • Summary and conclusion of the conference by Jérôme Gleizes (chairman of the EIVP, elected member for Paris), Youssef Diab

Download the full programme