Trams are gaining more traction in Bordeaux, France—this time with the help of Netherlands-based firm OMA. Commissioned by La Fabrique Métropolitaine de la Communauté Urbaine de Bordeaux (loosely translated as the Metropolitan Factory of the Urban Community of Bordeaux), OMA’s masterplan include an extension of the Bordeaux tramway system along Route de Toulouse over the next five years through the towns of Bègles and Villenave d’Ornon, located to the southeast of the city, which OMA will also redevelop.
In the late 1800s, horse-drawn carriages ferried people through the city; these were gradually replaced by a network of electric trams that spread across 124 miles, but in 1958, the trams were abandoned in favor of automobiles. In 1995, recognizing the city’s inability to rely solely on automotive transportation, then-mayor Alain Juppé called for the reintroduction of trams to Bordeaux, which now carry 165,000 passengers daily over 27 miles’ worth of routes. OMA’s proposal lengthens one of the tram lines southward to what will be the city's new south gate, Porte Sud de Bordeaux.
A primary strategy of the project involves recognizing and preserving two distinct modes of transportation: the fast-paced traffic along Route de Toulouse, and the slower pedestrian traffic through, on, and around it. The new masterplan provides an alternative to a previously proposed route through Bègles—which would have resulted in the demolition of 5,000 square meters of buildings in its path—by bending to accommodate the existing urban fabric. “We took the tramway extension as an opportunity to rebuild this part of the city, generating a new linear condition which allows the possibility to define a fast / slow cityscape,” OMA associate Clément Blanchet said in a release. “By shifting the tram line from its previously planned location, we create potential for new types of housing and commercial development.” OMA has also been involved, since 2010, with a plan to add 50,000 housing units to the city of Bordeaux.
For more details and images of Route de Toulouse, visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.