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Development of the Isle of Nantes, France: What Awaits i...

Development of the Isle of Nantes, France: What Awaits in 2023?

In 2023, 3,000 residents and 2,000 employees will move into the housing, offices, and stores of la Prairie-au-Duc, a new neighborhood west of the Isle of Nantes, France. Already, two apartment buildings have been constructed just behind Les Nefs. One houses the Cinécréatis School and its five hundred students of audiovisual, cinema, and new technologies. The building also includes a student

In 2023, 3,000 residents and 2,000 employees will move into the housing, offices, and stores of la Prairie-au-Duc, a new neighborhood west of the Isle of Nantes, France.

The Isle of Nantes, Nantes, France

Already, two apartment buildings have been constructed just behind Les Nefs. One houses the Cinécréatis School and its five hundred students of audiovisual, cinema, and new technologies. The building also includes a student dormitory. The second building, nicknamed l’Oiseau des îles (The bird of the isles), is an apartment building made up of social housing. The building will welcome its first residents in Spring 2015.

These two new constructions give a preliminary idea of the neighborhood of la Prairie-au-Duc in the west of Nantes, located between Les Nefs and Le Hangar à Bananes. But this is only the beginning. From here through 2023, 150,000 square meters will be developed for a grand total of 1,200 lodgings.  The development will then welcome 3,000 new inhabitants and 2,000 employees. Plans for the neighborhood also include shops, public services, a community center, and scholarly establishments (such as  a school of design). In total, two hundred hectares of virgin land have been given over to the architects' imagination.

Projects that intend to revolutionize construction standards

“We are working with a blank slate,” explains Jean-Luc Charles, Director of the Samoa (the company in charge of developing the Isle of Nantes). “It is a great opportunity and a real responsibility.” The neighborhood will be residential, but also has a greater urban mission.  This is partially because of its central location between les Nefs, a future metropolitan park in the south-west of the island, the future CHU (University Hospital), and the Anne-de-Bretange bridge. The development poses an aesthetic challenge as well, for the it overlooks the scenic Chantiers Park and the facades of Quai de la Fosse.

La Galerie des Machines, Isle de Nantes, France

Certain projects, carried out by different promoters, are already bringing this development to fruition. The Nantaise d’Habitations building, a large cube of twelve floors pierced by narrow openings, will be ready next autumn. The building will have thirty-three apartments, three townhouses, and four hundred square meters of commercial space. Next door, the Imbrika project, planned by real-estate company Gibroire, plans to finish construction in mid-2015. The project seeks to “go against convention” by mixing offices and housing with shared common spaces.

The development pushes things even farther, presenting itself as “revolutionary:" a way of bringing together architects, contracting authorities, developers, and future inhabitants. Planning is underway for shared spaces, gardens on the roofs of buildings, a bed and breakfast and even a concierge service for the area. Work on the south of the Prairie-au-Duc boulevard is still in its beginning stage. Three small blocks were proposed to interested developers. These could offer 400 supplementary lodgings sometime in 2018. “These projects are representative of the city that we want to construct, one where people work together and where the resident is at the heart of the process,” brags Johanna Rolland, the mayor of Nantes.

How is your city developing unused space to revitalize urban life? Can planned communities bring life to abandoned spaces?

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Katelyn Hewett recently graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French. During her time at St. Olaf, she enjoyed playing the French Horn in the St. Olaf Band, working as a teaching assistant for first-year...