new public space
Re-qualifying a public space that had been neglected, the project to redevelop the Quai des Salines constitutes a strategic milestone in the revitalization program of the center of Tournai.
L’Escaut river, which crosses right through the city center, largely defines the city’s urban identity. The Quai des Salines, where the project takes place, follows the narrow docks of the cathedral district up to the Pont des Trous, an important medieval bridge that marks the limit of the inner city. The wharf needed to be reconditioned beyond its function of passing through the water. It was a question of generating new uses allowing it to create a public space in its own right. Bordered by 19th century patrician houses with listed facades and a row of generous trees, the quay offers a peaceful and historic landscape.
an articulated green carpet
The development is based on the enhancement and protection of the place. It seeks to create unconscious gazes and generate an intense feeling from ordinary elements. The redevelopment of the Quai des Salines is an application of “ultra-contextuality” and “the ordinary-extraordinary”.
In terms of form, the project is based on a traditional segmentation between road space intended for vehicular traffic and pedestrian space dedicated to walking and resting. The new wharf is cut along its length into three characteristic parallel bands. While along the built front the traditional paved street is maintained, on the water side, a wide pedestrian alley in blue stone invites you to stroll. Between these two, a vegetated intermediate strip develops, welcoming a set of wooden benches, like an articulated carpet.
Playing at the same time on the differences of levels, the cutting of alcoves and the heights of the backrests, this static rest area forms a permeable screen between the universe of the city and the pedestrian esplanade. From a landscape point of view, it preserves the view of the facades while hiding the street.
Opening to the south towards the city center, the quay leads to a large square. Located below the Pont de Fer, the space appeared to be residual. The chosen response was to simplify its geometry by installing a technical room serving as a belvedere from the bridge. This new built volume, covered with the same type of wood as the vegetal strip, marks the start of the path. Open and airy, this square is furnished with tables and benches with a thin steel profile.
eighteen stainless steel pages
The materials used were chosen for their durability and slip resistance. Artistically participating in the definition of the project, a work by artist Emmanuel Saulnier is integrated into the most upstream part of the walk.
It is made up of eighteen stainless steel ‘pages’ placed at the locations of the hatches of the old saltworks. Each one carries a letter engraved and worked in its thickness, revealing the words: ‘place of salt, dream of sea’, referring to the history of the place.
Lighting: Atelier Roland Jeol