During the Urban Workshops that were organised in the second phase of the study 50.000 Logements, our design research showed that it would be very strategic to rethink the way the future tram stop planned in Bruges, a suburb of Bordeaux, would link to its future urban environment.
The tram stop was already decided using a proximity perimeter based on the existing urban density, resulting in a spot that was crammed between existing gardens and offering little visibility and few connections. Looking at the future potential of the sites dispersed throughout the city, it became soon clear that one of the largest derelict sites of the city of Bruges –the Beyerman site, less than 150 m away from where the tram stop was initially planned – could play a strategic role in redefining the connections inside the city, allowing it to make a radical shift in how the public space would anchor into the future public transport system.
This anchoring happened through a design move that felt counterintuitive at first: we proposed to put the tram stop on top of the new bridge crossing the railway tracks. As a result, things that were previously disconnected suddenly connected, having a benefit on multiple scales. The new tram stop will serve in an equal way both parts of the city that were previously disconnected by the railway tracks. designing the bridge as a public space and connecting it to the Beyerman site on one end and a small derelict site on the other, suddenly inscribed the crossing and tram stop in a new urban continuity, where the future park of the Beyerman site would not only serve itself, but perform as a connector to existing urban fabric beyond its own perimeter.
This reconfiguration of the way new infrastructure meets and enables new city fabric, required an approach that integrated both soft and hard values. The most difficult issue was to meet the strict requirements of the construction of the tram and its technical parameters. To generate the necessary breakthrough in a process that was already well underway, we organised a series of productive meetings with the team that was responsible for the execution documents for the tram. During these sessions, we absorbed all of their constraints while redesigning how the tram stop and new bridge would work. Going through a series of variations, and through various moments of hope and despair, we eventually found a solution that would work technically, financially, spatially and juridically.
Very quickly after the collective work produced its result, the new proposal was politically approved, went into tendering and got built. Through integrated design work, the bridge and tram stop became a ‘belvedere stop’: a strategic piece of urban infrastructure, designed to be merged with its future urban environment.