Aurillac > square Vermenouze

Aurillac > square Vermenouze

In the 19th century, the morphology of Place Arsène Vermenouze was definitively defined by the construction of the law courts and central public square, allowing the wider area’s outer portions to be taken over by traffic and parking spaces. The result was chaotic and devoid of coherence. However, the square’s potential in symbolic terms as Aurillac’s beating heart had not been lost. The trees and planted areas, monuments, statues and public buildings, each bearing witness to the town’s cultural heritage, were all elements on which redevelopment of the square could draw, bringing a new sense of historical continuity. The desire to return the square to pedestrian usage involved restructuring of the overall space, defining where pedestrians would walk and creating a new unity. The square’s new purpose was to accommodate a range of diverse and sometimes contradictory activities, and anticipation of these elements would certainly play a central role in how future users would appropriate this public space. Live performances of varying ilks, markets and exhibitions were planned, but the square was also to serve as a rallying point for tourists, and a place for local inhabitants to stroll, meet up or chat. Along the northern perimeter, the car parking spaces were removed, along with the second row of trees, making way for an esplanade in front of the law courts and cenotaph, thereby setting them in perspective. To the west, the area in front of the hotels, stretching as far as the apse of the church, were to become pedestrian zones and all visual obstacles removed. To the east, in the pedestrian zone, the newly heightened sense of perspective sets off the statue to the Droits de l’Homme in the foreground, before leading seamlessly on to the Avenue Gambetta. The underscoring of this opening allowed the overall space to be drawn out towards the south, thus strengthening the visual, physical and symbolic bond between Place Vermenouze, the Conseil Général and River Jordanne. Urban furnishing plays a key role in enhancing this public space, instilling a new sense of identity.
program
development of square Vermenouze and construction of an underground car park
project management
atelier d’architecture King Kong, OTH, Yon Anton-Olano, Anouk Debarre, Gertrude
client: City of Aurillac
location: Aurillac (15)
surface area: 24 000 m²
Cost (VAT included): 9 000 000 €
date: competition 2004
images/photos: Jean-Louis Courtois
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