La Fontaine Chaude

Dax France

Recovering the vitality of the city centre

In many small historical cities, the pressure of car accessibility and traffic has a severe impact on the cohesion of city centres, where pedestrian space is claimed to accommodate vehicle requirements. This resulted in a fragmented identity and loss of heritage. In 2010, the municipality engaged a process to regain quality of life and invest in the promotion of the touristic thermal city. Since Roman times, the city of Dax in the southwest of France is known for its hot water springs. OKRA’s has developed a pedestrian-friendly scheme for the city centre, and a plan to renovate one of the main spaces, the Fontaine Chaude Square.

The invisible made visible

By reorganising the traffic system, OKRA made it possible to create a peaceful pedestrian-friendly platform. The old monumental porch of the Fontaine Chaude has recovered its position in the centre of a generous, open and carefully crafted paved carpet. The paving details and lighting concept showcase and highlight the thermal history and collection of artefacts found on the square.

Public space as a catalyst for urban life and social cohesion

Cafés, restaurants and shops around the square have gained visibility, accessibility and lots of terrace space. The liveliness of the area has improved, and the square now offers more space to organise festivities and events, becoming the real beating heart of the thermal city.