The ambivalence of local travel policies in the concrete of a public space design project: The case of the Vieux-Port of Marseille

By Benoit Romeyer, Frédérique Hernandez

This article contributes to the analysis of urban development projects aiming at a redeployment of alternative modes of transport to the car. More specifically, its aim is to analyse how ambivalences contained in local mobility policies tend to affect urban projects. Based on theoretical frameworks derived from work on urban design, it studies the genesis of a project for the redevelopment of public space by combining the organisational analysis of its collective production system (the actors and procedures involved) and the substantial analysis of its concrete content (the stakes and the planning biases in balance). It takes as a case study the Vieux-Port of Marseille whose redevelopment as a public space is at the interface between transport and urban design. The redevelopment of the Vieux-Port, which began in 2009 with the launch of an international design competition aimed at semi-pedestrianisation, is part of an overall strategy to reorganise transport and traffic in the centre of Marseille. This award-winning urban development thus constitutes an example conducive to the empirical observation of the encounter, in the same space and on the same design stage, of a diversity of urban design approaches. The case study is based on two complementary methodologies: a literature review enabling the project to be placed in a broad spatial and temporal trajectory, and the conduct of semi-directive interviews with the stakeholders involved in the steering and design of the project. The results obtained contribute, on the one hand, on the work dealing with new cooperation frameworks in the production of urban projects and, on the other hand, on the spatial declinations of urban mobility policies.

  • urban project
  • sustainable mobility
  • public spaces
  • semi-pedestrianisation
  • Vieux-Port
  • Marseille
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