The upper part of the rue Nationale and the place Anatole France: recent evolutions and future projects

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This paper deals with recent developments in the production of the territory, starting from the example of the spatial planning project of the upper part of rue Nationale and the Anatole France Square. By the early 1980s, in a deeply changed social, cultural, economic and historical context, the French central government has encouraged the development of local and regional authorities, affecting at the same time the process of planning projects (and in particular of urban design) and what is expected from them. Starting from this statement, we can study the relationship between the changes in the context and the ways of fabrication of a ‘project territory’. The contemporary way of making a project seems to be based on at least five major components: the definition of the expectations of the project, its design, its realization, but also its appropriation by the recipients, and the consequent and inevitable changes due to this appropriation. The project becomes then less a result than a framework of action. The sharing of development issues, the proliferation of stakeholders, the cooperation and the coordination among actors, etc., acquire a capital place and become an outcome, as well as the space transformation in itself. This article aims to gain insight into this system by looking at an example of contemporary territorial construction that corresponds to the recent vision of the future of the urban area as promoted by the city of Tours and by the urban community Tour(s) Plus over 2013-2014, and more specifically by analysing the vision that unfolds through the territorial projects taking place around Anatole France Square: the Contemporary Creation Centre ‘Olivier Debré’ (at the place of the School of Fine Arts) and the project of the top part of rue Nationale. These projects are placed in a context of decentralization (and crisis), in a framework where a more or less effective participation in decision-making of all actors is constantly evoked (especially regarding the decisions that leave a visible mark in terms of presence in space and that are able to reinvent the image that the city conveys).
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