Between now and 2020, the Victor Hugo neighborhood of Toulouse, France will be totally renovated. The market and parking lot (both located in the modern structure whose facade is shown above) will be redone, and the square will be redesigned by urban planner Joan Busquets - with construction lasting 18 months. Work could begin in the summer of 2016, but the project, presented as one of Mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc’s priorities, has not yet been budgeted.
The six months of dialogue between elected officials, businesses, and citizens finally ended with them settling upon an expansion of Victor Hugo market/parking lot and square. The total demolition of the building, once hinted at, is no longer the current plan. “That would have meant six years of work, which was unfathomable,” points out Antoine Nori, the President of the neighborhood business association. Probed about the project, the market vendors and owners of outside establishments declared themselves in favor of the renovation.
To meet the standards of France's architectural and historic preservation organization, L'Architecte des Batîments de France, the facade of the parking structure will be revamped and its accessibility re-examined. “There will be only one entry and one exit, rather than the two that currently exist. And, on the interior, the parking spots will be redesigned. At the same time, an exterior elevator could be created to make it easier to access the restaurants on the upper floors,” indicated Jean-Jacques Bolzan, deputy in charge of commerce, at a press conference last week.
A Green, Pedestrian Square
One consideration that has been made is to prohibit the permanent parking of cars and trucks around the outside of the parking structure, considered “an aberration,” by elected officials. They posited, “Why not put in place a shuttle system from Lalande Wholesale Market in order to assure that Victor Hugo Market’s vendors will receive their deliveries.”
In the same way, the exterior perimeter of the structure will be completely redesigned. “The renovation of the square, with enlarged sidewalks and landscape design work, will naturally be lead by Joan Busquets,” explained Annette Laigneau, deputy in charge of urban planning.
Finally, once the public space has been improved, owners and businesses in the area will be invited to update their own facades.
“We are renovating public spaces everywhere in the city. We will help private owners in the updating of their facades. There is a collective fund set up for that, and we are going to start it back up,” insists Laigneau.
In terms of the project’s schedule, all of the studies and specifications should be secured by summer 2015, with construction beginning the next summer and lasting 18 months. “This is one of our priorities, therefore it is necessary that it gets done while we have the authorization,” estimates Jean-Jacques Bolzan. He assures that, “The budget has not been cut off at all, but this project will end up costing less than the (now completed) renovation of Rue Alsace.”
How can cities redesign existing buildings to make them more accessible and conducive to community life? Have districts in your community undergone facade improvements? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.