Arriving in Chamonix in the French Alps used to be a confusing affair. You crossed over a bridge and railway lines, arriving at a small roundabout with people stepping out into the road all over the place. The signposts used to be poor, and you couldn’t see anything much other than some tired looking dwarf pine trees and lots of carparks beyond. Then suddenly it was given a makeover, and is now a delight to visit. The car park was resited underground, and instead there is a wide open space which can be used for markets, as a meeting area and for concerts. The materials used were mostly local, with granite and stone predominating, and a limited palette of greens were used for the street furniture: lamposts, bollards, rubbish bins and signposts.
The elegant new roundabout brings calm to the main entrance to Chamonix with its planting of silver birches in gravel and lamp posts in differing shades of green
A view across the new square with changes in the ground pattern indicating routes of passage
Sitting spaces were created for people to relax in, and performance areas designated by walls built in local stone. Steps were carefully designed to take account of the change in ground level, and the planting was kept very simple, mainly silver birch with white painted stakes.
There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the ambience of the new sqaure
Local materials are used in the paving, steps and wall details
Steps and railings have been carefully designed to accommodate the change in level
The planting of birches enhances the buildings in the background
A raised bed faced with local stone continues the birch theme along the edge of the square
Altogether the impression one gets is of a calm, attractive and organised town centre with a strong sense of the underlying design.
View of the new intersection from above