I saw a great example of urban renewal during a recent visit to Nice, France. Promenade du Paillon is a park in the heart of the city, on a strip of land separating the old and new towns. Green space, walkways, gardens, children’s play structures, and fountains are incorporated onto 12 hectares, stretching 1.2 kilometres from the National Theatre to the Promenade d’Anglais by the sea. It was completed just last year in October.
It is the work of landscape architect Michel Pena, who took a former carpark and bus depot which had become an eyesore, and turned it into a popular place for locals and tourists to congregate and view the city.
Because there is a river bed beneath the site, Pena used a water motif to connect the different spaces that gently progress along the length of the park. Coloured paving inlaid in the sidewalks mimic the river bed, while cooling misters and interactive water jets spring out of the pavement at various locations. Children clamber over wooden play structures in the shape of an octopus, whale and turtle. And grass, trees and flowers soften the concrete, providing an interesting juxtaposition to the narrow streets and alleys of the adjacent old city neighbourhood.
The only thing that would have made it nicer would have been more shade (it gets very hot on the Cote d’Azur), but hopefully that will come with time as the trees mature and grow taller.