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Concours | Lille Bike Park (06/2013)

Troisième prix du concours ‘Lille/Design for Change’, ‘Lille Bike Park’ a pour objectif de reconnecter plusieurs quartiers séparés par une ligne de chemin de fer via la bicyclette (le V’Lille). Ce projet de Siliang Fu vise notamment l’aménagement d’une autoroute exclusivement réservée aux vélos, véritable manifeste incitant à de nouveaux usages.

| Urbanisme et aménagement du territoire

The design is based on an already made plan to renovate the former Fives steel factory to the east of Lille's city center including multiple residential, institutional and public programs.  Even though really close to the city center, this Fives area has been inactivated for many years, due to a gap of railways that separates it from the city center. And there seems to be a great potential to connect the Fives area over the railway gap to the Saint-Saveur Station area, and have both sites activated.  

First of all, a new metro station on the redline is suggested at Saint-Saveur considering the demand in the future. Then the elevated bike highway is proposed to go across the railway and link the whole area including the two metro stations. Along the bike highway, local bike lanes are extended to merge with the existing bike lane network around. Additional facilities are located cross the site, including bike rental, parking, service as well as apartments, retail and recreational facilities designed specially for cyclists.  

Programmatically, the whole site is divided into three districts: the Saint-Saveur Art District, the Biking Style Complex and the Fives Culture District. And based on the renovation of existing buildings, highly mixed new programs are introduced into the site and unified by the bike highway system. 

With multiple layers of space and infrastructure, the site was occupied efficiently in a three dimensional way. It is also important that the new landscape is well integrated with the existing landscape network in the urban context to create a continuous system of open space. 

With an emphasize on different urban functions, all the three parts are mix-used and includes residential, public and green space in each of them. Those programs not only bring dynamics into the community, but also help merge the site into the urban context. Especially when the bike highway and new bike lanes have made the access so much easier.   

02-SiliangFu-.jpgThe Saint-Saveur area will be redeveloped into an art district, with the art galleries already renovated in the north part. The big blocks in the center are mainly reserved for future development for museums, and can be currently occupied for an open market with a transformable lightweight canopy. In the south is an art SOHO community with apartments and studios for both artists and general public, and a garden of vertical urban farms where citizens can participate to grow plants and food with the newest soilless culture techniques.  

Between the elevated metro line and the railway is the new biking complex. It is an new concept of building complex that is based on the logic of biking, where residential towers and shopping malls are connected by bike ramps extended from the bike highway, so people can move around by bike without being disturbed by ground traffic. In the biking style apartment towers, residents can ride bike right to their apartment doors, either with the biking ramp or elevators adapted specially for bike riders. Residents here will enjoy an easy access to the city center thanks to the bike highway system. And the density here will make it quite affordable for them.  

In the Fives area, the structure of these old factory buildings are preserved as much as possible with necessary reinforcements. New structures are mostly either inside the old skin or elevated above the roof. Two indoor streets with retail programs are created along two workshop spaces, and an atrium is opened in between the two streets. Part of the old roof are turned into a green roof-scape. Other programs as originally planned are also included. 

With all these highly mixed programs distributed in such a large scale landscape, the bike highway works as a backbone that linked not only all the facilities inside the community but more importantly, reconnects this under-developed area back to the city, and redistributed the dynamics of the urban space.

The former Fives steel factory to the east of Lille's city center, are planned to be developed into a new suburb community with apartments, public and sports facilities, a Labor exchange center, a hotel and a hotel school, a business center and a series of open spaces.  

However, before we get deep into the site itself, let's beginning with looking at a larger scale first. Even though typically considered as suburban, the linear distance between the Fives area and the city center is actually very short. Due to division of the wide railway yards between the Fives and the city center, this area became inactivated for many years. Before we can really find a solution to re-link it to the city, any efforts will be undermined.  

When we look at the other side of the railway gap, fortunately, we find a great opportunity to match our site, and be grouped up for a much more ambitious development. That is the former Saint-Saveur railway station. With an ready developed art district with a extremely good atmosphere and activities in the north, the southern part of the site is basically empty and ready for an activation. If it could be somehow connected with the Fives area over the railway gap, it is very likely for us to achieve a double win and have both sites activated.  

03-SiliangFu-.jpgThen comes the question, how shall we connect the two districts? A bridge or a tunel or something new? For car or for pedestrian or something else? To answer this question, we need to go back to the city in a larger scale again.

In the city of Lille, there are multiple systems of local transportation: Train, Metro, Tram, car, pedestrian and bike. After comparing the different systems in the city, we can easily figure out that bike is definitely the best solution for local transportation in a city with such a scale and environment like Lille. Good enough, when we get into the city of Lille, we can easily find that a network of bike lanes and a bike share program.

V'Lille has been well established and greatly help both local residents and visitors to move around the city in a cheap and green way. And when we look further into the network of bike lanes and distribution of V'lille stations, we surprisingly discover that, it is exactly our two sites-- Fives and Saint-Saveur that are blacked out from the system, and also blocked eastern Lille from central Lille.  

So let's go back to the previous question: how the two parts should be connected? Considering sustainability and the quality of environment in this area, vehicle connection is not a good choice; and considering the scale and distance of the site, pedestrian connection wouldn't work well neither. Therefore, bike is obviously the best solution for the connection of the two sides. But how can we make biking easier for a site with such a large scale and disturbed topographical condition? And here comes the proposal: to build an elevated highway for bikes and connects the two sites.  

More than just a new urban landing and a piece of new infrastructure, what we really would like to propose here is actually a new living standard and a new life style: to encourage the use of bikes and to maximum the convenience and accessibility of bikes, you can even bike right from your kitchen into the super market.  

Not only the residents in the community , any visitor can also easily enjoy the convenience of the bike highway and bike parks. No matter if they are coming here as a destination or just passing by to the other side of the city. No matter if they are using their own bike, or just come here to grab a shared one. Anyone can be part of this community.  

With all these uniqueness, it's very likely that the bike highway itself will become an attraction of the city, and provide new urban experience for the visitors. By this mean, the Bike Highway is no longer just a piece of infrastructure, but more of a manifesto and monument that represents our attitude towards the future of our city.  

And Biking is also no longer just a way to move, it is a life style, that's convenient, efficient and sustainable.

Siliang Fu

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