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Prior to the intervention: the Place de la Liberté in an image from 1991.


images  (7)



previous state

Despite its extraordinary urban configuration, this long, large and central space of Lons Le Saunier was in a bad state with its urban potential undermined by the overwhelming presence of vehicles that obstructed the normal development of alternative functions that were equally or more appropriate for a space that had originally been planned as a square and attractive meeting point in the historic centre of the city. Pedestrians were obliged to adjust and alter their routes because of the chaotic and changing geometry created by ground-level parking, while even the trees in front of the theatre seemed only to accentuate the ill-effects of the predominance of vehicles.

aim of the intervention

The project, with its origins in a competition, aimed to create a square at the northern end of this magnificent space, restrictively reorganising the traffic into a one-way road going south. The project thereby proposed to confer a bipartite formalisation to the space, maintaining the asymmetry that was the legacy of history in a zone that was extraordinary in its dimensions and formally analogous, both with the canonical examples around the world of longitudinally developed squares, and with other urban spaces of Lons le Saunier itself. To this effect, and with the use of quite a unitary paving system, the project aimed to emphasize the marked directionality of the space and to highlight the public and representative nature of many of its buildings, for example, the Theatre, which has gained a threshold space at the entrance that now meets its needs and markedly improves general accessibility.


The project materialised in the construction of a small semi-underground car park next to the theatre, permitting, at ground level, continuity of pedestrian thoroughfares. At the level of the square, and alongside the remodelled road on the south side, vehicles were still able to park in front of business houses, mainly for loading and unloading purposes. The decision to make this street unidirectional reflects the desire of the City Council to create a Zone 30 (maximum permitted speed of 30 Km/h) in the city centre in keeping with the process of creating pedestrian zones that was initiated with this project, and with other initiatives along similar lines.

Definition of different zones was achieved with a deliberately limited range of materials strictly in keeping with functions, seeking those that would minimise the impact of traffic noise on the lateral footpaths, and anti-slip materials for the pedestrian thoroughfares. Two new fountains were installed in the square with the aim of recreating the spa facet of the city, one of them circular and the other a kind of water-play space, along the lines of dry fountains with variable jets, that can be retired on market days to free the ground area completely.

The lighting aims to create conditions that are in keeping with the formerly non-existent centrality and representativeness of the square by means of a general system consisting of a row of expressly-created wooden light towers that once again emphasise the aforementioned directionality, perceptively segregating pedestrian space from the flow of automobiles, along with a more theatrical kind of lighting that highlights outstanding architectural elements such as the clock tower, the theatre and a sculpture that has been restored as part of the project.


It is fundamental that interventions in historic centres aiming to clarify and rationalise the different flows occurring in these urban spaces should ensure that some basic urban functions are not offered at the expense of others. The introduction of pedestrian zones favours an overall approach to mobility, which could not be offered with any guarantees without them but, in particular, it creates continuities of public space that enable the public to appropriate this space in such a way that the redesigned mobility also brings into being other spaces where people might meet or wait. This project not only puts an end to the predominance of the automobile in a key area but it also recovers a proper reading, and the urban scale, of a space with a powerful formal and historic personality.

Mònica Oliveres i Guixer, architect

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Paving of the street to minimise the impact of traffic noise.

technical sheet

CITY: Lons-Le-Saunier (18,483 inhabitants)




AREA: 8,250 m2

COST: 2,132,610 €



Rachel Amiot, Vincent Lombard, Amiot-Lombard, architectes-urbanistes


Yves Adrien Sarl Coup d'Éclat, Jean Max Llorca, C.V.F. Structures