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Xavier Bohl

Architect & town planner of the Presqu'île

The Peninsula to an extra soul

Xavier Bohl is the architect of coherence in the development of the Touques peninsula. His workshop advocates soft architecture that takes into account the human, historical context and the uniqueness of a place. He developed this concept in France and abroad on architectural and urban planning projects, often linked to the proximity of water: marinas, tourist and port projects, new sustainable neighborhoods, etc. His practice was notably noted for the urban renewal of the Cité Jardins du Plessis Robinson (Grand Prize for the best renaissance of an urban suburb - 2008 European Rotthier Prize and Special Mention to the Victoires du Paysage in 2008). Interview.

What are the architectural assets of Deauville?
Deauville is known for many reasons, among others, for its neo-Norman architecture which is part of the Calvados tradition. This style is highlighted throughout the city: the town hall, many villas ... it signs the architecture of Deauville as soon as the visitor arrives, since the station is a significant example classified as a Historic Monument ...
The Presqu'île benefits from a marked neo-Norman inspiration, but without stereotypical stereotypes. We find brick, cut stone, half-timbered, tile, slate, large loggias, openwork bodyguards, friezes ... We also offer a sequenced architecture and without monotony. This urban renewal, as the City wanted, is also part of a philosophy of integration with the existing, without brutality.

How to make the Presqu'île a fully-fledged district of Deauville?
It's true, the Presqu'ile looks like the end of the world ... The challenge of its renaissance is to give it the status of a connected and permeable district while retaining its soul and strengthening its character. The customs building is preserved as well as industrial facades on the Quai de la Touques and rue Thiers. To become a full-fledged district, the Presqu'île is anchored in its history while building the future. It remains the place of a natural transition between the city and the sea.
The initial master plan is fully respected to preserve the charm of the place. For the Deauvillais, it will be a new place to live with restaurants and shops, but it will also be a place to stroll which will retain its natural character, on foot or by bicycle, since soft modes of transport will be favored.


How do the basins fit into this renewal?
To structure the space and offer more clarity to the Presqu'île, we imagined to erect, between the two basins, a real "gateway to the sea". It consists of two towers 28 meters high, one of which will be a belvedere, open to the public, offering a unique point of view. They will be the emblem of the Presqu'île! Visible from afar, they reinforce the presence of the basins and the new district in the city. A footbridge and new public buildings with a maritime vocation (the yacht club and the port offices) will finish to sign the maritime character of the place.

What will be the atmosphere in this future neighborhood?
The town center, the boards… show the sociable face of Deauville. The Presqu'île, with its trees, wild grasses, sea spray, the rhythm of the tides ... will also present its natural face.
Did you know that on the 14 hectares of the Presqu'île, there is 35% of water and that only 3 hectares will be built! This means that 45% of the peninsula is devoted to nature and walking, which is huge! It will show 2 faces: a civilized facade on the station platform and a wild facade on the bank of the Touques. This development takes into account climatic rhythms and solar orientation: green to the north of the water (quai de la marine, bank of the Touques), sunny and mineral in the south (quay of the Empress Eugenie). The penetrants are improved from the forecourt of the station, with the quai de la Touques, rue Thiers and the new clock tower. All this will give the Presqu'île a very human dimension; the architecture will structure the quay and the basin. The esplanade on the side of the main entrance to the city will be completely free, which will offer a perspective on the basin.

What is your role in the overall coherence of the project?
The constructions must not be juxtaposed out of order! My role is that of a conductor. Our Workshop drew up the initial ground plan which defines the urban composition. From there, we collaborated to guarantee the coherence of public spaces and I am, moreover, the architect of certain projects: the Pierre et Vacances tourist residence, the customs building, the future maritime towers ... Concerning the others parties, my role is to supervise building permits to keep the architectural vocabulary and guarantee, with the Architect of Buildings of France and the City, an overall vision.

You like to compare Deauville and Saint-Tropez…
I am a Mediterranean who literally fell in love with Deauville when I discovered it in 1975. I couldn't help but draw a parallel with Saint-Tropez. Both are famous small towns with an international dimension. What do they have in common? Their exceptional location, the glamor, the sweetness of life, the complicity with the artists, the gastronomy and a beautiful regional architectural tradition…
What is your feeling on the progress of the Presqu'Ile?
I am very happy with the general turn of the project: the walkway, the gardens, the roads are now taking shape, they are concretizing a vision that we had with the City, 10 years ago now, without any slippage! Today the Presqu'île is undergoing a metamorphosis and keeping all its promises. "

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