Riverbank, Quai Gillet


This project is part of a more general plan to develop the banks of the two rivers that flow through Lyon, the Rhône and the Saône. Some 50 kilometres of the Saône’s banks were given back to the local people, with a « river movie » that followed the current. Ilex worked with the artists Pablo Reinoso and Meschac Gaba to bring tranquillity, but also novelty, to the interface between the river and the city.

City, river, heritage

Quai Gillet, running along the city centre, represents a transition from the natural to the urban. The two milieux were brought into harmony, and the river, as the major presence, was allowed to flow over onto the banks, with different vegetational arrangements. The plants were chosen from a natural palette complemented by more horticultural selections, the overall result being dominated by the passive and the expressive.

Warp and weft – visual effects

A dynamic rhythm was projected across the riverbanks. On the convex bends, the eye is led beyond the river itself, while on the concave bends there are more intimate spots, and cocoons of vegetation.

The warp of the landscape and the weft of the urban sequences that overlook the riverbanks are woven together.

Refuges and freedoms

This is a new, tranquil way of looking at the cityscape, with its contrasts of ambiance, and freedom to enjoy it in a non-prescriptive way. The riverbanks are refuges set apart from the built environment, conducive to reverie and contemplation. This is a pathway to respiration, following the meanders of the river.

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Client: Grand Lyon
Design: Ilex paysage urbanisme (team leader), Cap Vert Ingénierie, Agibat Ingénierie, Speeg & Michel – Concepteur Lumière
Mission: complete project
Area: 2.0 hectares
Budget: €4.2 m (excl. tax)