Arte Charpentier Architectes

AVARICUM, a project open to the city and a producer of new spaces

Arte Charpentier Architectes as Architects

The Avaricum project is located in a strategic space, on the threshold between the medieval and modern city. The new gateway to the heart of the city of Bourges, in central France, Avaricum reveals itself to the city as a development hub and a unique opportunity to strengthen the commercial appeal of the city centre. In the heart of the space, Arte Charpentier Architectes and the Blatter architectural firm designed a major commercial and residential project. The complex extends the city’s existing pedestrian zone toward the north while alleviating the landscape discontinuities caused by post-war urban development. With a surface area of 19,000 m² (over 200,000 sq. ft.), the project benefits from a process of reflection on its relationship with the historic city; the process made it possible to reinterpret the urban footprint to create a true “city slice.” Beyond aesthetics, the Avaricum project is designed as an extension of the downtown commercial zone. With the support of a study of residents’ shopping habits, the architects enhanced Avaricum with a pedestrian street that extends the historic centre’s existing pedestrian thoroughfares. The project is centred on a square designed as a welcoming space that showcases the remarkable architecture of the half-timbered houses that form the south side of the square. The site is divided into two distinct parts. At the northern end, new residences harmonize with existing residential areas. Along the length of Avaricum, specialized shops are integrated as an extension of the downtown retail district. The rooflines of the new retail spaces are designed to echo the characteristic roofline morphology of the medieval city. To avoid creating a “big box” disconnected from the life of the city and its centre, the architects focused on urban, architectural, commercial and environmental integration aimed at “creating a city within the city.”

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