In a number of small historical cities, the pressure of car accessibility and traffic has a severe impact upon the cohesion of city centres, where pedestrian space is claimed to accommodate vehicle requirements. Resulting in a fragmented identity and loss of heritage. In 2010, the municipality has engaged a process to regain quality of life and invest in the promotion of the touristic thermal city. Since the Roman times the city of Dax, in the southwest of France, is known for its hot water springs. OKRA’s plan is to develop a pedestrian friendly scheme for the city centre and to renovate one of the main spaces, the Fontaine Chaude Square.
By reorganising the traffic system OKRA made it possible to create a peaceful pedestrian friendly platform. The old monumental porch of the Fontaine Chaude has recovered its position in the centre of a generous, open and carefully crafted paved carpet. The paving details and lighting concept showcase and highlight the thermal history and collection of artefacts found on the square.
Public space as a catalyst for urban life and social cohesion
Cafés, restaurants and shops around the square have gained visibility, accessibility and lots of terrace space. The liveliness of the area has improved and the square now offers more space to organise festivities and events, becoming the true beating heart of the thermal city.
Client: Ville de Dax
Role: Lead designer
Collaboration: OTCE Engineering, AAPP Architects
Area: 1 ha (first phase), 1.5 ha (second phase)
Budget: 3 Millions Euros
Dates: 2011-2013 (1st phase, second phase expected)