Two main issues in the transformation of Anatole France Square, Tours

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A theatre of diverse and varied urban elements, this northern end of the rue Nationale offers potentially a rich range of visual experiences. There is variation in elevation, architectural style, street furniture, land-use density etc., a rich diversity. If these potentials could be exploited and developed, such a space could represent a substantial asset for the central urban perimeter. However, at the present time this contribution is lacking. The square has no common core where all its parts intersect. There is not even a minimal, recognizable uniqueness; it is not a cohesive, clearly defined and identifiable whole. This strategically important space is static, more a heavy conglomerate of separate parcels, without direct links between them. This promotes the emergence of barriers, both physical and symbolic, making movements in the square unnatural and uneasy. This singular conformity substantially promotes a negative perception of the area. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a coexistence between the different particularities of the square and provide a common identity cutting across them as the first major development priority. This approach means a profound change in the current arrangement; it is necessary to rethink the connections between the different parts of the area. The encouragement of alternative movements of people by a less balanced and symmetric organization of structural elements and urban furniture, with more parcels ‘irrigated’ by pedestrian movements, and less dominance of current ‘main lines’, is one of the main objectives to deal with this first issue. However, the desire to unify whilst preserving diversity in Anatole France Square is a question of fine balance and therefore carries with it a warning. Whilst it is necessary to improve the present homogeneity, an all too exotic or radical renovation would undermine the identity of this urban space. The proposed project must therefore be an optimization of the existing space, not a total upheaval.
Sustainability in heritage protected areas : Book of Proceedings of the 5th AESOP European Urban Summer School Tours, France, from 1st – 8th September 2014
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