Le 11/04/2024

River reconquest and park creation: a city-to-city exchange between Lille Metropole and the City of Turin

Through the European Urban Initiative's City-to-City (C2C) capacity-building tool, both cities benefited from this successful collaboration

A new park of 20 hectares along the river Deûle

As part of a transformation project of a former industrial wasteland of about 115 ha, Lille Metropole will develop in the coming years a park of 20 hectares along the river Deûle. This vast and ambitious project, combining the construction of housing, offices and shops amongst other things, meets the needs of Lille Metropole’s inhabitants in terms of both leisure and nature.

Some of the main challenges for the redevelopment of the Deûle riverbanks include:

- Planning the progressive development of the park and possible temporary uses;

- Dealing with the pollution of the site due to previous industrial activities;

- Setting the basis for a future relationship between the park and the river;

- Designing multifunctional public spaces with minimal soil sealing;

- Involving local residents in the project so that the designed park can perfectly meet the needs of the neighbourhood and the users.

Given the complexity of the project, Lille Metropole wanted to draw inspiration from similar examples developed in other European metropoles. Therefore, between November 2023 and January 2024, Lille Metropole conducted an inspiring city-to-city (C2C) exchange with the City of Torino. The city-to-city exchange is a new capacity-building tool proposed by the European Urban Initiative. Lille Metropole and the City of Turin are the first urban areas to seize this interesting opportunity to learn from each other.


A successful C2C exchange

There are many similarities between the urban contexts that characterise the City of Turin and Lille Metropole: both used to have important industrial activities, both have parks developed on polluted sites, both cities have rivers flowing through them… Due to these similarities, there were several potential mutual benefits for the development of a knowledge-sharing initiative. Furthermore, the city of Turin also have ongoing plans concerning riverbanks restoration and generally speaking the creation of new public green areas. A key consideration for them, like Lille Metropole, is for these to be designed with the contribution of key stakeholders from the public/private sectors and citizens.

In November 2023, a delegation of politicians and technicians from Lille Metropole was invited for an inspiring 3 days visit in the city of Turin.  Several various park sites such as Casa nel ParcoParco Dora and the Environment Park were on the program as well as a visit to Orti Generali, a community vegetable garden. An enriching experience for Lille Metropole.

In return, during the month of January 2024, Lille Metropole welcomed partners from the city of Turin for an extensive site visit of the future park site with landscape architect Michel Desvigne. In addition, the delegation also visited many other projects throughout Lille Metropole’s territory, including Fives Cail. This vast industrial heritage site has been transformed in a new sustainable urban neighbourhood with several uses: economic activity, a “hostel school”, an urban farm, a sport hall, a “third place” committed to ecological transition, residential housing and a gourmet hall “Chaud bouillon” dedicated to food, mixing cooking, productive and food-services activities and a « community kitchen ». The delegation from Turin also visited the market garden zone in Wavrin (one of the 95 municipalities of Lille Metropole), a 35 hectare zone for local, sustainable and short-circuit agriculture.

Both parties are satisfied with this first C2C exchange that provided a lot of concrete input for the further development of Lille Metropole’s Bord de Deûle park.

A large number of good practices were exchanged between the two metropoles, in particular regarding the active participation and involvement of citizens, cooperation with NGOs and companies, innovative concepts in the management and maintenance of spaces based on collaboration pacts.

The C2C was a real opportunity to step aside and have a fresh look on the project. It is also an opportunity to go outside our comfort zone and (re)discover new methods and visions over how to carry out such development project. As the match between the two territories was particularly good, it was an insightful experience for both Lille Metropole and the City of Turin, which gained new perspectives on their ongoing projects and plans through similarities and differences.