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400 New Housing Units in Rennes, Brittany, France

400 New Housing Units in Rennes, Brittany, 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

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.

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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...

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