The ‘Halle aux houx’ wasteland is located near the Saint-Omer Station, on 3.9 hectare along the canal between the city center and « les faubourgs du marais audomarois », classified as biosphere reserve by UNESCO. This is the site where the Communauté d’Agglomération du Pays de Saint-Omer, together with the Urban Agency AUD have developed a feasibility study including a bioclimatic approach: The site will welcome a new district of 110 housings and around 4000 square meters for tertiary activities. In front of the restored ‘Halle aux Choux’, a park will be created. At the place of future housings, the masterplan foresees the natural cooling of the future buildings thanks to the canal, the urban form and the creation of alleyways and gardens.

To implement a demonstration site in the perspective of the ‘Halle aux choux’-project, a prefiguration site has been targeted at the Montaigne School and to the street nearby (Hazebrouck and Cassel streets), connected to the brownfield on the other side of the canal. A playground for children has been vegetated and grass pavement have replaced the asphalt in the aim to drain off rainwater. This school have been targeted because it is near to the future district. It will potentialy host the future inhabitants’ children.

Montaigne school is a preschool for 90 children under 6 years old, surrounded by the Cassel street, mainly used to park cars and with several difficulties preventing pedestrians’ good circulation. The Hazebrouck street was only for circulation.

Characterized by a high proportion of mineralized areas often deteriorated, the school and those public spaces have today a very little comfort of use. The project aims to make those spaces thermal stress resilient and aims to improve the comfort of students and neighbourhood residents.

As a specific constraint at the Montaigne school, the works had to be realised during the school holidays and the trees will be planted at the end of november 2021. It was also an obligation to keep free the vehicle access during the works.

A participatory design process was initiated : The inhabitants were questioned during the realization of the « Plan Guide de Composition Urbaine » (urban works masterplan) and took part to a urban walks in 2018. Institutional partners (elected members, partners, professionals in planning as architects and promoters were consulted during thematic workshops in the framework of urban study. And finally, local residents and the school’s teaching staff have been involved. Two meetings have been set with the “Conseil de quartier” (neighborhood council) and two others with the school’s teaching staff. During the first meeting AUD has presented the site, the goals of the project and collected the ideas of the inhabitants and teachers. During the second meetings, the project has been presented, taking into account the ideas collected. The school is implementing awareness raising activities on climate adaptation.

Elected members from CAPSO and the AUD are working together on the bioclimatic study as co-contracting authorities. The City of Saint-Omer takes actively part into the reflexions. L’Atelier Iris Chevet and his co-contractors are actually working on the study. As part of the Urban Renovation Programme, CAPSO, the City of Saint-Omer and AUD worked with many stakeholders such as the architects, the national authorities, the Etablissement Public Foncier, the Housing depatment of CAPSO and of course the teaching team of the school.


Concerning the Montaigne school and playground renovation, Saint-Omer city was the contracting authority . The AUD played the role of project design assistance (conception public consultation, relation with technical partners) and accompanied the INGEO company (management of works, supervison of public works companies). The AUD called on ADOPTA (an association specialized in sustainable rainwater management) to integrate this technical aspect into the project.

The INTERREG project COOL TOWNS allowed CAPSO, City of Saint-Omer and AUD for the first time to integrate heat stress as an issue in their urban planning and development project. This cooperation project gave the pace, tools and financial support from Europe for bringing intentions to reality : The skills and input from the European partners  – on data collection and interpretation, on solutions and roadmap to implement them – were truly rewarding for implementation.