EUROCITIES on COP 21 – L’Ile de Nantes

  • culture
  • environment

Nantes is transforming a former industrial area into a sustainable living, working and leisure environment.

When the shipyards closed in Nantes in 1987, they left behind not only physical scars but a strong legacy within the local community. Shortly after the last ship was built, the city began considering the future of ‘L’Ile de Nantes’, the island on the river Loire where the shipyards were located. The city has always had a strong bond with its river, but the closure of the shipyards threatened to weaken this relationship. The focus of discussions was on rebuilding this link to create an area for housing, education, business and leisure.

The first regeneration phase took place between 2000 and 2010, and involved developing a vision for the island’s future together with institutional stakeholders, associations and residents. This led to the creation of new access roads and footpaths and establishing connections with the city’s historic centre.

A large focus of the development has been on attracting culture and the creative industries, including the world famous ‘Les Machines de l’Ile’, whose arrival shaped a whole new creative and cultural district.

The city has worked hard to combine preserving the island’s industrial heritage with repurposing public spaces and creating green areas. The shipyards were turned into an urban park, and one of the warehouses is now a public garden.

The current phase runs until 2030, and involves developing the transport links to and from the island, with a focus on sustainable and soft modes such as cycling: a new bicycle boulevard will run across the island. Land that had housed railway lines will be turned into a park.

Eventually, the island will incorporate 160 hectares of reclaimed land, 10,000 new housing units, 450,000m2 of office and business space, and 350,000m2 of new infrastructure. The initiative demonstrates how Nantes has been able to combine social and environmental concerns in a large-scale redevelopment project.

For more details, please see our ‘cities in action’ case study (2013) here.

This project is part of a series we are promoting in order to give visibility to urban solutions as part of a global climate deal expected to be reached at COP 21 in Paris.