Foundations grounded in memory

La Confluence's industrial heritage, from the river port to the national market, have given the area's constructions a unique character, marked by history. The two prisons it housed have also influenced its heritage. Throughout the redevelopment programme, the district has taken care to preserve its roots.



confluence, lyon, harbor, docks rambaud, industrial heritage, sugar

From the port to Docks Rambaud

In 2001, the redevelopment of the walkway along the Saone river brought new life to Port Rambaud transforming it into the Docks, a space dedicated to culture and communication. Instead of wiping the slate clean of the past, half of the industrial buildings were preserved and restored by Voies navigable de France (the French waterways organisation) within the framework of a partnership agreement with Greater Lyon. Transformation began with La Sucrière, the old sugar warehouse which, from 2003, became a centre for contemporary art and the forum for the “Biennales”, Lyon's biennial contemporary art festival. It was followed by renovations of the Douanes Customs house building in 2005 and the Salins (salt house) in 2008.

Traces of the past can even be seen in the public spaces at Docks Rambaud, landscaped by Latz und Partners, where the rails and historic paving are including in the new walkway. Two unloading cranes have also been conserved. Set alongside the gleaming new brightly coloured pavilions designed by architects Jakob & Mac Farlane, Ruddy Ricciotti and Odile Decq etc. they lend a unique character to the face of the left bank of the Saone.

New life for the old market district

2009. The wholesale market moved to Corbas, freeing up a vast space in the south of La Confluence. This presented an ideal opportunity for building for the future while preserving a wealth of history. The identity and memory of the old district was therefore conserved along with certain buildings: the covered flower market was refurbished as a sports hall; the Halle Girard is now the totem for French Tech; the Bâtiment-Porche, which held the administration for the covered market; and block C4 which has become the pioneer Confluence Institute for Innovation and creative Strategies in Architecture; and in 2013, the renovated C5 building which now holds SPL Lyon Confluence's hold offices and the Maison de la Confluence.















sq. m. / floor area at La Sucrière

30 %
proportion of former buildings refurbished in the market district



Prison heritage

confluence, architecture, lyon, harbor, docks rambaud, industrial heritage, jailhouse

The former prisons, Saint Joseph (built 1837-1831) and Saint Paul (built 1860-1865), were located on prime sites, both now enjoyed by the Université Catholique de Lyon and the mixed development programme Life Wide Open, created by Sofade and OGIC, which includes housing and offices. After the prison buildings were decommissioned in 2009, the State launched an appeal for ideas followed by a call for tender for the conversion of the heritage buildings. The redevelopment project selected focussed on opening, connections and conservation of the heritage site. 40% of the existing buildings were conserved. In Saint Paul prison, the central rotunda, buildings forming a shortened panopticon and the chapel have been left standing. Opposite, Saint Joseph has retained its administrative buildings, the Baltard buildings, and part of the outer walls, the entrance gateway and the chapel. The current site also contains a block of intergenerational housing, developed by Habitat et Humanisme in partnership with La Pierre Angulaire/EHD. It brings together a health care centre (open to people from the neighbourhood), 15 housing units for people experiencing difficulties and isolated people on leaving hospital, and 95 student lodgings with controlled rent, including 80 studio flats and 15 three-bedroom flats (for flat-share). The housing units are designed for students from low income backgrounds who will be invited to "care for" convalescents.