MICHEL CORAJOUD / Water Mirror, 2006

Bordeaux has two nicknames. “Port de la Lune” because its town planning follows the curve of the Garonne River, strongly differentiating its two banks. And “Sleeping beauty” because this city was long considered dirty and lacking in dynamism despite an exceptional heritage and a recognized art of vivre.

And yet… In twenty years, the city has transformed and regained its status of a regional capital: establishment of a high-speed train connection, restoration of the facades of the historic centre and the quays, creation of pedestrian walks and of a new tram network.

In terms of contemporary architecture, the city is today the second largest building site in France. The city has woken up to welcome a population that should rise from 800,000 to one million within the next ten years. Private developments, Operation of National Interest, requalification of modernist architecture, eco-districts, large-scale innovative tenders, experiments in social housing and urban planning… with this wide range of urban recipes, Bordeaux offers a reading of current French trends in the field of construction.

Registered with UNESCO since 2007, Bordeaux has been collecting tourist honours: elected “European Best Destination” in 2015, nominated at the “World Travel Awards”, it was chosen as the n°1 World destination by Lonely Planet in 2017. And since 2021, the label “Bordeaux Frugal Building” is aiming at environmental urban excellence.

This excitement takes form into a unique combination of starchitects’ projects alongside the typical “échoppes” neighbourhood, or daring real estate operations that participate in the transformation of old industrial districts. Bordeaux has managed to make its tardiness an asset, by capitalizing on its wealth of land to organize a functioning worthy of a metropolis. And this lab is still happening right now!