Cours Emile Zola


Cours Emile Zola is a radial, transverse artery that is central to Villeurbanne, with architectural eclecticism that extends over a distance of three kilometres. Since the 1950s, however, it has been dominated by cars.
The redevelopment of Cours Emile Zola is intended to bring about a transformation and a rebalancing of space, with eco-friendly modes and utilisations. Landscaping is central to the project, notably with the introduction of new plant life.

More than just a road

The urban mosaic of Villeurbanne has grown up around a number of distinct districts. And Cours Emile Zola links up these spaces in a highly functional way. But their present configuration goes back more than four decades, to the time when the metro system was just being constructed, and they have gradually become suffocated.
How might this thoroughfare contribute to a radical transformation of the quality and image of public space, compatible with present-day requirements?

Priority to the pedestrian

Residents, visitors or consumers, hurrying along or just strolling – pedestrians want friendly, simplified, reassuring spaces. In this new vision, the urban functions and furniture are assimilated into a single axis. The surface is uncluttered and smooth, and reflects light in the evening. The secondary roundabouts also give priority to the pedestrian.

A breath of air in Cours Emile Zola

The central feature of this transformation is the amount of vegetation it brings to the town centre, with sidewalk gardens and trees that provide a unified identity.
The gardens aerate the trees that structure the views.

Cours Emile Zola: a reactive project

The project was put together in a participative way. The authorities and the local people were active partners in both the initial programming and the final choices.
This programme of research and experimentation could well be instrumental in making road systems more central to planning projects.

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Client: Grand Lyon – La Métropole
Design: Ilex paysage urbanisme (team leader), Ingérop, Cap Vert Ingénierie, Marc Speeg
Missions: project implementation
Copyright pictures : Laurence Danière/photographe