France’s vision of a utopian future comes to life in Lyon
As the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon has been known to whet the appetite. With over 2,000 years of history and home to breathtaking views, it’s also a feast for the eyes. Today, nation’s second city is drawing attention for its avant-garde architectural ambitions.
The Lyon Confluence project is one of the most ambitious city-centre urban regeneration projects in Europe. This site of 150 hectares will extend the centre of Lyon to the very tip of the Presqu’île peninsula that meet stringent quality criteria in terms of urban planning, architecture, environmental impact and social diversity.
Arguably the biggest symbol of Lyon’s cultural ambition is the regeneration of its former docklands. Known as La Confluence, because it sits at the meeting point of the Saône and Rhône rivers, the project started in 2003 and is scheduled to finish between 2025 and 2030. It will double the size of the Presqu’île – the heart of the city – and create “a sustainable neighbourhood for all”, according to Pierre Joutard, director general of the body running the project. “We wanted to build a mixed neighbourhood, with tall and low buildings, old and new, and all different shapes,” he said. “We don’t want a boring city.”
Musée des Confluences
Having attracted more than 300,000 visitors since its inauguration in December 2014, the Musée des Confluences tells the story of mankind through a collection of two million objects, including a 1,000 year-old mummy and a piece of moon rock. It’s an extraordinary building, housing a cabinet of curiosities that addresses complex subjects such as origins and evolution in an imaginative and innovative way.
A cultural hub
Over the past couple of decades, the city has established itself as a cultural hub with an innovative bill of annual events.