“The common street”, or how to adapt public space to “the climate and social emergency”

The idea came from a call for commons, launched by theAdeme in 2021. Propose a methodological guide to transform the street as we know it everywhere in France, paved and dedicated mainly to the car, into a space allowing citizens to reclaim it, but above all, into a space that remains livable in horizon 2050, at the time of global warming.

Franck Boutté Consultants, Richez Associés and Léonard (foresight platform of the group vinci) deliver, on March 29, a 400-page document proposing “a method for establishing a diagnostic of the vulnerabilities and potential of the street, then to take action to reorganize public space, encourage experimentation with new uses of the street, refresh cities”.

What does the transformed common street look like?

After having received numerous contributions in particular during a cycle of consultation with the general public, the architects, landscape architects, town planners and other thinkers of the city of the group have established the major challenges for adapting public space. Mobility, place of nature, sharing of uses… It is not a question, affirms Franck Boutté, Grand Prix de l’urbanisme 2022, of tackling ready-made solutions to all projects, but of giving elected officials the tools to succeed. the transition.

What does the transformed common street look like? She has, above all, “a single plan from facade to facade, without sidewalks, to less mark the separation of uses and allow their porosity, their evolution”, explains the town planner. A slight inclination allows the circulation of water. It is obviously permeable to the maximum and equipped with a multi-layered vegetation, in order to bring as much freshness as possible in the strong heat expected in the middle of the century.

Reduce the space of the car, especially the one that is parked

But above all, the common street, the one that allows everyone to reclaim public space, is a road without parking cars. It is, in fact, “the real scourge” left to us by the 20th century. Motorized vehicles, explains Franck Boutté, “occupy an immense part of the space of our cities”for a relatively small modal share of trips in the centers of metropolitan areas.

However, it is not a question of banishing them; the common street, in fact, is not a simple pedestrian street. Motor vehicles are welcome, but “they must be urban-compatible, therefore adapted to the speed of the pedestrian”. “The reference speed is that of the pedestrian, i.e. 5 to 10 km/h”, continues the town planner. The coexistence of uses is, moreover, key to the success of the common street.

“Not all streets can become common streets”

These few elements offer a “minimum base”, “then each common street will have its specificity”explains Franck Boutté, who insists on the fact that “it’s a guide to make projects, it’s not a project” : the publication provides decision makers with a method to experiment and refine planning over time.

However, “not all streets can become common streets”. Indeed, several conditions are necessary: ​​in particular, they must be secondary level traffic axes, in order to be able to drastically reduce the speed. Public transport must be close, if we want people to do without their own vehicle. Finally, “the community must have the means to act on this street”because debiting is expensive.

“As with buildings, 80% of the public spaces of 2050 already exist”, recalls the Grand Prix de l’urbanisme. And, “Any more than buildings, they are not adapted to climate change”. Gold, “the street is a much stronger lever for adapting the city, and the scope of intervention is incredible”.

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