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Building and urban planning along the river

Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers has joined with the National School of Architecture of Lyon to start a long-term exchange programme between Master’s students and the representatives of the different disciplines present in IFGR. The first meeting was held in May 2016 in which the Rhone Valley was viewed in the framework of one of its characteristics: the co-existence between the river and urban development, from its source to its delta.

The first meeting in Lyon in May 2016

For the first meeting, the architecture students were asked to present their project based on the theme of the university of the 21st century, planned for installation along the stretch of the Rhone from south Lyon to Vienne. The experts of the IFGR panel (Julien Clément, anthropologist; Corinne Castel, archaeologist; Pascal Bourdeaux, historian) gave their viewpoints, alongside two members of ENSAL’s teaching staff, in order to stimulate the students’ reflections.

Seated on the large stage of the Maison de la Danse, each group of students was asked to specify how its project took advantage of the proximity of the river. The jury was confronted with three mock-ups of the students’ projects: the first presented the whole of the Rhone Valley, the second the area proposed to all the groups of students for their projects – thirty kilometres between Lyon and Vienne – and the third corresponded to the project specific to each group.

Enhancing the architectural approach with additional viewpoints

The students were then questioned on subjects that they rarely face. Several themes emerged, such as the choice of emplacement of the project in relation to the river: how can the oxbows be reoccupied without denaturing them? Do the buildings have to merge in the landscape, or can they confront it in opposition?

The overall spirit of the architectural approach was also placed in perspective: how is the river used at present? How can the tangible and intangible heritage be taken into account? What do people remember, in order to rediscover the river’s history? How can the project co-exist with the flora and fauna?

The jury finally questioned the students on the future projection of their project: what is the university of tomorrow and how do the projects predict changes in ways of studying? How can the future uses of transport routes, starting with the river, be incorporated?

Judging by the reactions of the students, the teaching staff and the panellists, this session was fully satisfactory and in line with one of IFGR’s main objectives: that of its links with the academic world and the importance of teaching.

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