Contributor: Jérôme Baratier, Agence d'urbanisme de l'agglomération de Tours

And what if the A10 motorway opened urban passages

The territory of Tours and Saint-Pierre-des-Corps typifies a contemporary metropolitan situation where a conflict between large infrastructures of mobility and dwellings is installed. The caesura formed by the motorway in the city centre allows some rare points of passage, often fragile, sometimes improbable and barely practicable.

Desiring to reinvest these forgotten spaces, the community of agglomerations of Tour and VINCI Autoroutes wanted to collect new ideas to reconnect the urban fabric and encourage the well being of users. To do this, they enrolled in international programme “Passages, space of transition for the 20th century city” initiated by the Institut pour la Ville en Mouvement (institute for the city in movement) IVM.

An international competition of ideas was launched, organised by Tours’ agence d’urbanisme de l’agglomération (Tours’ agglomeration urban planning agency) with IVM and financed by VINCI Autoroutes and Tour(s)plus. Seven teams selected out of fifty French and foreign candidatures were invited to take part to a 5-days workshop in situ to sketch a scenario susceptible of clearing this complex metropolitan situation. At the end of the jury made up of local elected, VINCI Autoroutes, the State and French and international experts, project Micro-Poros proposed by the collectif Bau15 (M-A Durand, J. Aucant et S. Bonzani) was chosen as laureate.

The strategy of the laureate project consists in bringing micro porosities on key areas situated at the intersection of breaking lines and lines of use above, beneath and around the motorway. It finds these nervous points, activates their latent resources to unravel a very local situation whilst contributing to a major transformation project that was until then a flaw of Tours’ urban planning. These micro-interventions are conceived like urban carpets, and each critical position contains itself the near to nothing from which regeneration is possible.

The idea that the potentials of the city of tomorrow should be situated on these territories of dissociation appears as one of the great traits of the contemporary strategies of urban planning. In this sense, the urban or architectural intervention – always spectacular – is perhaps less important than the resources that it will manage to put in place, than the forces that it will have made visible and sensible. At the horizon of these micro-interventions, a metropolis where real, imaginary and symbolic milieus are once again interconnected and where the inhabitants of Tours meet once again is starting to emerge.