Envision a new urban corridor between Strasbourg’s local airport and the European Parliament Building, also featuring a “European-Express.” That is just one of the ideas dreamt up by prize-winning urban planning students for a contest entitled “Strasbourg 2050.” They are formulating projects suitable for the lofty aims of this competition, which is to “imagine the city of tomorrow.”
Organized by the Strasbourg Association of Urban Planning and Development Students (ASÉAU) in parallel with a symposium on the same topic, the contest invited teams to envisage how the Alsatian city might appear more than thirty years from now, centered around a current sticking point. This reference point is the Place de Haguenau, which is the north entry to the urban area, and its chaotic highway currently only serves the all-powerful automobile.
The winning team, who were recognized by a panel of judges made up of of professionals, suggests making this square the central hub of a new east-west transportation corridor that would serve as an alternative for car travel. The Euro-Express would connect the airport with the European Parliament while passing through the Koenigshoffen suburb, the downtown train station, Haguenau square, and the Palais de la musique et des congrès Exposition Center, currently under-renovation. The team reckons that this operation could remain a limited-cost project. “Taking into account existing and future railway and tramway infrastructure, all we are missing is an additional 1.5km section to serve the tram.”
This corridor would bypass Strasbourg’s congested downtown. “You could travel from the airport to the Parliament in eighteen minutes, thereby dismissing the argument of accessibility problems raised by anti-Strasbourg Euro-deputies,” added the winners.
A Crossroad of Possibilities
The corridor project would form the backbone of a series of urbanization efforts on neighboring properties. Some of these sites would include the Portes de Koenigshoffen, the area behind the train station, a brownfield formerly belonging to a brewery at the edge of the neighboring Schiltigheim commune, and the future business district of Wacken. Currently neglected green spaces such as the Bruche Park, along with others, will provide the corridor with a green backdrop, according to the students.
In their project, the Haguenau square would become a “crossroad of possibilities;” a multimodal space made up by a hub between the Euro-Express and the future tramway service, and liberated from its current one-way loop that makes it so erratic. While it might seem crazy today, the square would be safely cross-able on foot in order to reach Schiltigheim via a central park.
A front of offices and parking lots located along the length of the railway would create an indispensable screen again noise pollution. Before adding a group of dwellings, it would be necessary to have talks with a private building program already underway, consisting of 17,800 square meters of housing, offices, and businesses, as well as with the expected conversion of the Maison du Bâtiment, the former seat of professional federations, and a variety of construction authorities.
Ambitious but highly relevant, this project would also need to define its relation with the neighboring Place des Halles Square. The city’s executive committee identifies this square as the pivotal element for connecting the north of the urban area to public transportation. This more or less corresponds with the ideas proposed by the students for the Haguenau square.
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Original article, originally published in French, here.
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