Friday, August 22, 2008

Lyon (Lugdunum) and its rivers - Urban Planning


Between 1985 and 1988, the Agence d'Urbanisme de Lyon reviewed Lyon's strategic development plan from 1978. New urban areas were identified for improvement and redevelopment. In 1989, Henry Chabert, the Deputy Mayor of Lyon in charge of Urban Planning at that time, embraced the idea to revert the deteriorization process of Lyon's public realm and to provide a new vision for the city. The city should be "humanized". The increasing number of cars and the growing rift between the city centre and the suburbs should be discussed.

In 1991, with the goal to rearrange and redesign the waterbanks of the Saône and the Rhône rivers, the Plan Bleu was adopted. The initial objectives of the plan were:
- the development of nautical activities - which was achieved through the construction and plan of river stops and ramps to the water;
- the redesign of the riverbanks, with the host of recreational activities (bike paths, recreational areas);
- the preservation and restoration of the natural character of the riverbanks, through partnerships such as the SMIRIL on the Rhône and the SYMALIM on Park Miribel Jonage.

The second version of the plan was expanded and envisions to integrate the urban rivers in the Greater Lyon, promoting a townscape enhancement strategy focused in the way the city meets its rivers. The process of recovery and improvement of Lyon's rivers contains three main aspects:
- Ecology, landscape protection and enhancement of natural heritage.
- The interaction of the citizens with the rivers: urban uses - recreation, tourism, etc.
- The 'economy of the river ": the transport of goods, river tourism, etc.

The main idea of the Plan Bleu is to bring together local initiatives and associations, while respecting the municipalities' choices. Under the influence of the Blue Plan, several large projects were launched: the refurbishment of the Rhone's banks, Blue Ring, Lyon-Confluence, etc.

Two other plans had an impact in the improvement of the city's structure:
- the green plan, focusing on public spaces and
reducing the domination of the automobile - which helps strenghtening the local urban identity;
- the yellow plan, a lighting plan for monuments, buildings, streets, squares, promenades and parks.

Lyon counts today with several car-free status areas. An example is Vieux Lyon, west of the Saône River. In order to increase the pedestrian's orientation and spatial legibility, the planners stick to certain guidelines which define the type of materials, plants and urban furniture to be used throughout the city.

_________The Lyon Confluence

A major urban development project known as "Lyon confluence" was launched in the strategic zone at the far end of the "Presqu’île". The sector, which was long dedicated to industry and transport, shall be used for a major extension of the metropolitan area by freeing up large tracts of land. Plans for improved access and high-quality landscaping are an integral part of the project.

Le Rhône and the promenade

The city's geography influences the character of the neighbourhoods. The rivers divide Lyon's arrondissements in 9:

- The centre of Lyon is the Presqu'île , or "peninsula", a tongue of land just north of the confluence of the two rivers. Most of it lies within the 2nd arrondissement including Bellecour and the Perrache railway station.
- At the top end of the Presqu'île, as the Saône veers west, is the 1st arrondissement , known as Terreaux , centred on place des Terreaux and the Hôtel de Ville. This covers part of the city centre and the slopes (pentes) of the Croix-Rousse.
- The 4th arrondissement covers the Plateau of the Croix-Rousse, up to its boundary with the neighbour commune of Caluire-et-Cuire.
- On the west bank of the Saône is the old town, Vieux Lyon , at the foot of Fourvière, on which the Romans built their capital of Gaul, Lugdunum. Vieux Lyon is made up of three villages: St-Paul, St-Jean and St-Georges, and forms the eastern end of the 5e arrondissement.
-To the east of the Rhône there is Modern Lyon, formed by the 7th(with Parc de Gerland) and 8th arrondissements to the south, the 3rd arrondissement in the middle (with La Part-Dieu TGV station) and the 6th to the north, known as Brotteaux. North of Brotteaux is Lyon's main open space, the Parc de la Tête d'Or . The district of Villeurbanne , home to the university and the Théâtre National Populaire, lies east of the 6e and the park.
- The 9th arrondissement is immediately to the north.


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