The urban redevelopment project of the Sète railway station lies in a global strategy by the city of Sète and the community of municipalities Sète Mediterranean Agglopole to further organize the mobility around the exceptional Thau Lake. The new mobility hub is part of an ambitious urban redevelopment project that targets transforming industrial wastelands, mainly owned by SNCF (French national railway company), marking the Northern area of Sète into multifunctional districts (housing, services, offices, touristic attractions…) to enlarge the existing city center around a structure of refurbished public spaces.
The project, ordered by Sète Mediterranean Agglopole, is located around the historical Sète train station, north of the city, which lies at the end of the historic urban axis of Victor Hugo Boulevard that leads to the vibrant Sète city center. The new mobility hub houses a variety of transportation modes: train station, bus station, river shuttles, and car and bike parking, with the aim to improve the public realm for residents, businesses, and travelers.
The project’s aims are: first, to highlight the patrimonial railway station, built-in 1839; second, to enhance the city’s attractiveness and underline its identity by redesigning one of its most important entrances. Third, creating a social pole for the residents to promote the city’s quality of life and togetherness, rendering the mobility hub a regional attraction for travelers and residents. Fourth, increasing the ease of access to the project, especially for pedestrians and bicycles; and fifth, giving back spaces to nature in the city to foster a healthier and sustainable lifestyle in Sète.
The new mobility hub forecourt, cleared of car circulation, extends the Victor Hugo Boulevard axis to reach and highlight the historical building’s main facade, with green spaces lying to the sides of the axis. The axis extension is cleared of vegetation to allow visitors, many of whom visit for Sète’s excellent weather, to get a warm welcome by the distinctive elements of the city’s scenery: the sun, the water channel facing the entrance, the facade of the historic buildings on the other side, and Mount Saint Clair further in the back. The forecourt floor, covered with a concrete coating, is marked by wavy corten steel lines reminding the visitors of the city’s infamous water canals, with concrete colors darkening the closer we get to the water channel. On the sides of the main entrance; lie the shaded green spaces that offer various benches conceptualized to reference the numerous boats spread all over the city canals. The green space’s design presents a diverse vegetation selection, aiming to favor biodiversity in the city (Cistus, Coronilla; Roses, Sages, Abelia, Agapanthus, …). Sète presents critical water scarcity problems; therefore, the selected vegetation is composed of Mediterranean plants that resist heat and water drought. The green spaces ensure heavy land porosity that benefits rainwater treatment and decreases the heat island effect in the city; also, it’s important to mention that the design guaranteed the preservation of existing trees on site.
The bus station connects to the historic train station with a pedestrian axis going from the main forecourt. A central green space, designed as a retention pond to absorb rainwater, divides the bus platforms and contains shaded wooden waiting areas; conceived like wooden bridges to reference the city’s renowned marina.
In short, the mobility hub guarantees an improved quality of life, social links, and spaces for pedestrians, bikes, and nature, making the site a generous space for various activities and different users; the mobility hub blossoms into a significant piece of Sète’s urban fabric that promotes the city’s urban regeneration.
Name of the project: MULTIMODAL MOBILITY HUB
Project category (Public Landscape Project, Infrastructure Project, Residential Project, Private Residential Garden, Hospitality, Schools and Playgrounds, Campuses and corporate gardens):
Role of the entrant in the project (landscape architect, developer …):
ECL STUDIO – LIGHTING DESIGN
Project location: 78 PLACE ANDRE CAMBON
SETE  – HERAULT – OCCITANIE – FRANCE
Design year: 2017
Year Built: 2021