For more than fifteen years, we have been involved in numerous studies and projects concerning the redevelopment of the Confluence neighborhood in Lyon, a territory of 150 hectares spreading south from the Perrache train station, between the Rhône and Saône rivers. The Saône promenade was the initial and temporary step.
In 1999, it was decided to replace the city's initial idea of establishing a single park for the area with a “park system” that would run alongside the Saône in a cordon, with branches into the interior fleshing out the whole of the territory. A crucial aspect in the conception of the project was its management and realization by the authorities over an extended period of time. The idea of setting up a two and half kilometer promenade along the Saône in 1999 served as a visible prototype for the project to come, succeeding in enlisting the necessary support.
Given the program was defined by a rapid, temporary, and above all economic transformation of an industrial site along the banks of the Saône, it was decided to utilize a very modest system of plantings. Resting directly on the previously existing ground, patches of gardens are arranged within a gridded structure without apparent edge, making up a vegetal floor of 9,000 square meters over the quay.
This temporary utilization of the quays in the process of transformation lent an immediate and greatly enhanced quality to the site, for which at the time there remained many unknowns. The two and a half kilometer promenades were accessible and visited from their opening by a large public, including those on foot, on bicycle, and families with baby strollers. The result has been the discovery of a part of their city that was until then inaccessible to the residents of Lyon.
The task here lay in the immediate establishment of a status for a territory, to guide it through its transformation, and to have it accept this transformation. The desired result comes about through management, maintenance, and respect of the territory, even when, as here, it is a question of temporary uses and attributes.