The development of new spaces to promote sustainable mobility and develop a city’s brand is currently popular in urban planning. However, these spaces are not as frequented as municipalities would like them to be and do not always meet the needs of users.
It is not simply a question of providing a corridor leading from point A to point B, but of creating a great place to get together, hang out and have fun.
To better understand the factors that contribute to the success of this type of project, Sylvie Miaux, a researcher in the Department of Leisure, Culture and Tourism Studies at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, compared the urban promenades of Québec City, Bordeaux and Zaragoza, and analysed the architects’ intentions in designing them and the perceptions of the people who use them.
The three projects aim to restore public access to the river and to green space. From the ornamental gardens that grace the promenade in Bordeaux to the integration of the Tequenonday woodland in Québec City, this connection with nature is essential for users. However, while users wish to maximize their access to the river, designers must follow safety regulations that sometimes require them to limit this access. The connection with the river is thus more direct in Zaragoza than in Bordeaux, for example.
To be appreciated, a promenade must also have a recreational aspect, such as the stations that reflect the moods of the river in Québec City or the water mirror in Bordeaux. It is not simply a question of providing a corridor leading from point A to point B, but of creating a great place to get together, hang out and have fun.
The results of Sylvie Miaux’s research suggest that the most successful promenades are those in locations whose facilities favour both recreation and mobility. Her findings could prove extremely useful in guiding municipalities that are seeking to improve the design of this type of project.