Bordeaux puts wine at heart of revival strategy

The French "wine capital" of Bordeaux hopes a dramatic new cultural centre dedicated to its best known export can set the seal on this once decaying port's ambitious renewal programme.

The voluptuously rounded structure, dominated by glass and wood, will evoke gigantic drops of wine as they are swirled in a glass and transform the skyline of the historic city from its formerly shabby quayside site.

"It's what we've been waiting for," said Sophie Gaillard, from the Bordeaux tourist office, presenting the blueprints of the 55-million-euro ($78 million) project, due to open in 2014.

Explaining an ambitious design that mimics both wine drops and the swirling Garonne river below, lead architect Anouk Legendre said: "It will be seen from all over the city so it's round, opulent from all sides."

Just the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, south of Bordeaux over the border in Spain's Basque Country, transformed the image of one rundown Atlantic port, hopes are high that the wine centre will become a municipal icon.

Both the city and struggling winegrowers should benefit from a project that mayor Alain Juppe's office hopes will generate 750 new jobs, 40 million euros in annual revenue and 400,000 visitors a year.

At the same time, he hopes it will put an end to his city's reputation as a staid and traditional bourgeois provincial town and boost his drive to turn it into a European commercial and cultural capital.

The plans are by Parisian architects X-Tu and London design agency Casson Mann, who aim to transcend Bordeaux in time, geography and terroir - tracing the history of wine through ancient civilisations and far-flung regions.

"Most of the work we do is with existing buildings, this is a fantastic opportunity to work with an architect to make the installation and the buildings a seamless experience," said Roger Mann, co-director of Casson Mann.

"It will be a multi-sensory journey," added co-director Dinah Casson.

Visitors will flow in a route that curves like the Garonne through themed modules, beginning in the subterranean "archaeological level" and winding to an observation level with a panoramic view of the city.

It's seen as fitting that the river has influenced the design, not only because of the Garonn's historical role in the wine trade, but because the waterfront is integral to the urban revitalisation begun by Juppe in 1995.

"The city had lost its role as the locomotive for the region, and it no longer had the political weight to compete with other French or European cities," said Michel Duchene, city council deputy for urban strategy.

"Bordeaux was often referred to as a sleeping beauty."

Dilapidated warehouses and sleazy nightspots lined historic quays. Traffic clogged the streets and 18th century stone facades were black with pollution.

Businesses and the middle class fled the city centre for the unsightly suburban sprawl leaching into the surrounding vineyards, threatening the rural landscape and diluting the city's vitality and purpose.

Juppe undertook a vast public works project to "re-centre" the city around both banks of the Garonne.

Thirteen years and two billion euros later, Bordeaux has undergone a soft revolution, "pleasant and friendly, but rather radical," said Duchene.

The 4.5-kilometre (2.8-mile) quay has become a park with pedestrian and cycle paths, reflecting pool, skate park, sports facilities, shops, trendy restaurants, a farmer's market, gardens and landing dock for cruise ships.

Scrubbed facades give the limestone buildings an elegant, golden hue. A tramway, fewer cars, bike sharing, pedestrian-only zones and redesigned plazas have created a greener, cleaner city.

An EU study found that Bordeaux's bike traffic increased from two to nine percent in the last two years.

"That's the highest increase of any European city," said Duchene.

City gardeners are busy planting a 90-hectare (222-acre) park along the Bastide riverfront opposite the historical quays.

A modern drawbridge whose middle raises like an elevator, currently under construction, will link the new park to the city, just steps from the future site of the wine culture centre.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape