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place charles de gaulle

edesign of an historic urban square // La Charité sur Loire, FR // Competitive tender, special mention // 2004​

The Place Charles de Gaulle is an important nexus in this historical city. By turns a car park, a place for commemorative or festive gatherings, or a market square, the diversity of use is interpreted as a positive point of departure for the project.
The square is reconfigured as an articulated surface capable of accommodating, framing and celebrating all these forms of inhabitation.

The treatment of the floor surface qualifies different spaces, enabling different programs simultaneously, relating them to each other. At the same time, the continuous, unified nature of the design supports alternating, sequential appropriations. The square is equally suited to a completely pedestrian use, inhabitation by stands on market days, or a car park, it‘s geometry clearly organising each function.

Subtle and precise gradients and changes of level respond to, augment and tune the existing topography to draw out qualities of the space, direct the circulation of traffic and pedestrians, and reduce the visual impact of parked cars. A play of oblique planes qualifies different spaces, creates axes, vistas and foci, whilst maintaining the spatial continuity necessary for the integrity and unity of the square.

The space in front of the town hall is designed as a representational ensemble together with the main façade of the building. The sloping plane framing the entrance and balcony incorporates vitrines for civic notices and a window onto the history of the city, with a view under the square to the ruins of the convent. The war memorial is repositioned and set within a commemorative, tranquil context, planted with trees.

Street furniture is integrated into the architecture as part of the topography of the place. Benches, lighting, bicycle stands, public toilets, kiosks and a public refuse station are incorporated into walls conceived as folds in the surface of the square itself which mark out the topographic shifts across the space.

Client: Ville de la Charité sur Loire, Mayor Gaetan Gorce // Services: Preliminary design // Area: 2.000 m² // Budget: 1 m €