December 30 2013

400 New Housing Units in Rennes, Brittany, France

A building in Rennes, France.

It’s done! After more than ten years in the making and several large changes, the future Madeleine development zone behind the Nantes Bridge was approved by the Municipal Council.

The first incarnations of this operation date back to 2002. At the start, the project consisted of restructuring Pompidou Boulevard. It was too large, not very elegant, and completely devoted to automobiles. How the times have changed since its development in 1977.

And its characteristics? The front of the street is a bit homogenous, with alternating open spaces and buildings, façades from different eras possessing little architectural quality, and small gardens or courtyards. “It is an example of a long urban freeway, designed for fast access to downtown” explains Renaud Fabry, a development officer for the Rennes Metropolitan area. The layout of the boulevard promotes traffic flow, but also “completely broke up several blocks of housing.”

Subsidized housing units in France.

Redo everything? Too Expensive!

The first perimeter of the development zone began at the Nantes Bridge and included the Nantes-Mermoz intersection. “The ideal would have been a reduction in the amount of roadways and the addition of public transportation” such as on the east-west axis, while also remapping the front of the street. But this restructuring has a cost, and one too high at that. Officials from Rennes therefore decided to reduce the size of the development zone twice, in 2007 and 2013, because even if Pompidou Boulevard is a “landscape disaster,” it deserves to be “functional and in good condition” adds Renaud Fabry.

In the end, what is left? A rather small development zone, allowing for the development of a 2.5 hectare area, some of which is abandoned land. The Buferon area, close to the center, is hemmed in between a railway track and the famous Pompidou Boulevard. Here, there are only two houses, two businesses (one being a garage), and a large industrial building of little cultural value (the industrial activities taking place at the site should move away in due time). The development zone expects to see the construction of 400 housing units, three quarters of which will be in Buferon. The rest will be strewn across three small plots along Pompidou Boulevard. Even if the operation is small-scale, it ought to transform and give a new burst of life to this area south of the Nantes Bridge.

Has your city experienced similar delays and changes in an anticipated development zone?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Marcus Khoury

Marcus Khoury is a recent graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, where he obtained a B.A. in French & Francophone Studies. Aside from his native Michigan, Marcus has lived in several states, in addition to France and Chile. Owing to his experiences with a variety of cultures, languages, and environments, he has always been keenly interested in how the exchange of ideas between different cities, regions, and countries helps to shape both physical and cultural landscapes. His linguistic background, in addition to his interest in the diversity of international urban environments and experiences, has led Marcus to fill the position of French Language Translator at The Grid, where he will be translating and presenting French language material involving environmental design.

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 30th, 2013 at 9:55 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, Housing, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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