Status: Competition (2011)
Types: Masterplan, Public space
Euratlantique, a currently ill-defined 800,000m2 area around Bordeaux’s planned TGV station, is located to the east of the city’s historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The objective of this massive masterplanning project – inspired by the creation of a fast rail link to Paris – is to establish Bordeaux as a leading European city. We believe this transformation is only possible if the Euratlantique site, the UNESCO site, and the river Garonne establish a strong relationship with each other. But rather than imposing homogenity on the area, we propose to diversity and exploitation of the existing as a guiding strategy.
The historic Saint Jean Belcier area of Euratlantique consists of fragments that differ by function and size, containing, in a random sampling, a National Wholesale Market, a nightlife district, and many ‘échoppes’ (housing dating from 1850 onwards). Instead of attempting to unify or homogenize the area, we prefer to start with what is existing and to capitalize on it (this also forms the basis of our approach to sustainability).
Open spaces – or ‘voids’ – on the Euratlantique site are potentially more important than the impulse to add new buildings. These voids can become animated public spaces that form connections within the area and to the surrounding city.
As well as subtle acts of preservation and regeneration, a project of such ambition and scale requires a distinctly new urban presence. We propose a new convention centre that will act as a gateway to the new TGV station and its adjacent business district. In response to the request for a ‘signal’ or ‘beacon’ to mark the emergence of the Saint Jean Belcier area – and without resorting the a clichés of the tower or high-rise building – we situate this new convention centre over the tracks of the new TGV rail link as it crosses the Garonne.
To make the program and ambitions of Euratlantique a success, we believe that the ideas of mixed-use and social diversity must be given a new treatment. We accept the existing diversity as a starting point for this new district and focus on making the autonomous fragments work together. Such an approach allows for phased construction, which together with the strategic reuse of existing infrastructure lowers costs and improves sustainability compared to a completely redeveloped and homogenized district.