CP - Reinventing the legend of the Croisette

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Reinventing the legend of the Croisette with the famous Atelier d'Urbanité Roland Castro and Snøhetta international architecture agency

Known worldwide for hosting the Cannes Film Festival every year in May, the Croisette, a legendary thoroughfare, is entering an extraordinary, unprecedented renovation phase. As such, the City of Cannes has chosen to bring on board the best in the business by launching an international architecture competition. Today, it’s the famous Atelier d’Urbanité Roland Castro and Snøhetta international architecture agency - which are behind major projects such as Times Square in New York, the seafront of Thessaloniki in Greece or the Oslo National Opera in Norway - who won the task of completing this extraordinary, historic project. 

After the Cannes districts of Le Suquet, La Bocca, La Pointe Croisette, République and Petit Juas, the Croisette - which extends over an area of 170,000 m2 and a length of 2.7 km - will undergo an unparalleled facelift, while remaining faithful to its identity. At the initiative of this major operation, David Lisnard, Mayor of Cannes, has been making every effort since 2014 to offer Cannes the international dimension it deserves. More elegant, more secure, greener and better illuminated, the Croisette will be both aesthetic and transformable, dedicated to business as well as leisure, luxurious while remaining accessible to all.
Cannes is a global village and the Croisette an element of attractiveness that must be presented to best effect. It represents the quintessence of the Côte d'Azur. Many private economic operators on the Croisette, including the hotels Le Majestic, the Carlton, the JW Marriott as well as the Palm Beach, have also invested nearly a billion euros.
From the complete restructuring of the underground networks of the Croisette to the modernisation of public spaces, including creation of a thalassothermal system, it’s now the subject of a spectacular public works project using innovative techniques, smart and environmentally friendly.

« The Croisette is a strong symbol for Cannes and one of its economic drivers. However, no structuring development has taken place there for 60 years. It’s essential that we upgrade this legendary promenade that hosts the most important and prestigious fairs, congresses and cultural events in the world every year. For this, the City of Cannes has chosen to rely on the expertise and know-how of architects from the Atelier d'Urbanité Roland Castro and Snøhetta. Their project was the best and most appealing. It’s both qualitative, visionary and high-end. It takes into account all the complexity of the space in question – shared between pedestrians, bicycles, cars and buses. All this had to be fully reconciled. The Croisette must today respond to a quality of life, but also its energy, its frenzied nature. The site will reflect the very identity of Cannes: a city on a human scale, proud of its French and Provençal roots, and open to the world. Today, we’re taking a historic step for the future of Cannes. The Croisette must move forward into the 21st century.»

David Lisnard, Mayor of Cannes and President of the Cannes Lérins Agglomeration


« We’re honoured by the trust placed in us and very excited at the prospect of writing a new page in the history of one of the most famous promenades in the world. The Croisette, the backbone of the city, whose circular shape mirrors the bay, is a unique and special meeting place between public, city and sea. Our concept pays tribute to the qualities inherent in this iconic waterfront.»

Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, co-founder of Snøhetta





Press pack
Reinventing the legend of the Croisette
23 September 2022

I.    Cannes Town Hall chooses a world-renowned architecture firm to redesign the Croisette
II.    A more prestigious, elegant Croisette
III.    More than a billion euros of private and public investment to increase the attractiveness of the boulevard
IV.    More modern, aesthetic pontoons 
V.    Exhibition space tripled at La Malmaison art centre
VI.    The different stages of the improvement and redevelopment programme of the Croisette

I.    Cannes Town Hall chooses a world-renowned architecture firm to redesign the Croisette

An iconic thoroughfare born in the mid-19th century, the Croisette is an incomparable showcase of French know-how and luxury, an international event site but also a promenade that’s dear to the people of Cannes and popular among tourists. With the organisation of the first edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946, it established itself as one of the iconic symbols of Cannes around the world. Since the 1960s, the famous Cannes boulevard, like the Champs-Élysées, Broadway or Hollywood Boulevard, hasn’t been subject to any restructuring work.
That’s why David Lisnard, determined to modernise and improve this unique space, launched a major international urban development competition in April 2021. After receiving 32 applications, the choice fell on an international architecture team that brings together the famous Atelier d’Urbanité Roland Castro (A'U), and a world-renowned multidisciplinary architecture firm: Snøhetta.


The former is the project's agent and includes about 20 architects, urban planners and geographers. This French agency, founded by the famous architect Roland Castro and Sophie Denissof, works on numerous urban and architectural themes, as well as the design of public spaces. It has developed multiple urban remodelling programmes for major complexes such as Dunkirk, Liège and Marseille, and has been involved in the international consultation for "Grand Paris". 
To carry out such improvement works to the Croisette, it’s calling on the experience and artistic qualities of the Norwegian agency Snøhetta, which will carry out the architectural design, floor design, and design the landscaped spaces and street furniture. The latter brings together 350 architects, landscapers, interior designers, general and graphic designers in seven firms around the world, including Paris. Combining sustainable design and development in each of its projects, the agency has worked on iconic projects such as the Oslo Opera House and its accessible roof plunging down into the fjord (it has a façade of solar panels), or the most famous pedestrianisation project with Times Square.
This unprecedented international collaboration is further enriched by the presence of numerous partners, all leaders in their respective fields:
-    the lighting has been entrusted to the agencies Observatoire International and Manifesto. They have already worked on lighting design and lighting scenography all over the world: the Highline in New York, the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Pont du Gard;
-    the water features, the main focus of the Croisette renovation project and a source of freshness, have been given to JML Water Feature Design. This firm is famous for its works such as the water mirror of the Bourse in Bordeaux and is currently working with Manifesto on the site of the Eiffel Tower in Paris;
-    prevention of security risks will be taken care of by Cronos Conseil, an operator in consulting and technical assistance;
-    event logistics and traffic flows will be redesigned by Transitec, whose knowledge of the region and its mobility challenges is well known.
All these actions are supervised by the WSP Group as technical contractor. It will coordinate implementation of the Croisette works and its planning in conjunction with all operators.

II.    A more prestigious, elegant Croisette

The Croisette, one of the city’s must-see spaces, is the theatre of Cannes life and a unique and special meeting place between the public and the Mediterranean. The project put forward by A'U Roland Castro and Snøhetta aims to enhance and bring out the best of the sea, an iconic element of Cannes' identity. To further increase the elegance of the place, the promenade will be dressed with red granite, echoing the old Le Suquet district, the Cannes Film Festival’s red carpet, as well as the intense terracotta colour of the Massif de l'Estérel. Different Art Deco-inspired motifs will dress the floor. In the form of golden details, these decorations inlaid into the ground will indicate the main points of interest to walkers, such as grand hotels, access to beaches or the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes. They will also mark out the cycle path.

A line of custom-made furniture, specially designed for the Croisette, will complete the development project. Benches with a rounded, curved design will be positioned along the boulevard. They will provide wonderful views of the boulevard as well as the bay for people to enjoy, up to the Massif de l'Estérel. Fully integrated into the landscape, they will also act as protective barriers against any ramming vehicles to secure the promenade. Complementing them will be the installation of canopies with Art Deco accents to bring shade and freshness.

The development of closed-circuit water features and increase in revegetation also meet this requirement. All this furniture will be fully highlighted, at nightfall, thanks to lighting specifically designed with custom-made lighting poles to offer a pleasant, coherent and safe atmosphere. This will only consist of low energy consumption LEDs.

In addition, the gardens will be redesigned to open up to the city and the sea, allowing a smooth walking experience. As such, a "Theatre of the Sea" on the Rose Garden area will take shape. With its tiers plunging into the Mediterranean, this exceptional place will provide a great location to contemplate the bay, city and Massif de l’Estérel, and will host cultural events. 

Continuing this theme, the project also provides for a large number of vegetated spaces, made up of indigenous species adapted to the Mediterranean climate. Increasing the vegetation will have a cooling effect, thanks to natural shade and permeable soils. 

Finally, A'U Roland Castro and Snøhetta plan lots of facilities that will energise the Croisette and bring it to life all year round. A new panoramic, green pavilion located on Reynaldo Hahn Square will host a catering site beneath its roof and activities for young people while retaining the iconic Carousel. The "Miroir", a body of water at the foot of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, will be created. In its design, this layout will reflect the palace and its iconic steps to pay tribute to the personalities receiving awards each year at the Cannes Film Festival.

It’s important to note that all the heritage elements of the Croisette will be preserved.

This project will be carried out just after the underground networks currently underway are completed, which is scheduled for December 2023. The first part of the surface works will concern the so-called "events1" Croisette, with a length of 1.5 km. They will start in January 2024, with delivery expected in mid-2025. The following phases will focus on the Croisette’s surroundings, the Square de la Roseraie and gardens of Port Canto, giving 170,000m2 of space renovated by the City of Cannes.



III. More than one billion euros of private and public investment to increase the boulevard’s attractiveness

While the Croisette has never undergone restructuring development since 1960, the major hoteliers of Cannes have been committed for nearly ten years to a billion euros of investment to modernise their establishments and improve their service offers. This unprecedented situation can be explained by the confidence of local economic operators in the destination, the changing requirements of high-end customers and competition from international tourist destinations. Among the major projects undertaken are renovation of the Majestic Barrière, Intercontinental Carlton, Palm Beach and the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez. Real estate programmes complement these developments, such as the recent construction of the First Croisette residence in front of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes, which offers 21 apartments and 1,300 m2 of commercial space. In addition, there is the renovation of the 22 bathing establishments by their managers. Indeed, since 2018, the City of Cannes has imposed on operators some very high-quality specifications, including aesthetic wooden roofs, more efficient anti-odour filters, creative, high-class architectural projects and event facilities for innovative, beautiful beaches.

At the same time, the municipality has initiated work to upgrade the Croisette sector since 2014. This includes the first phases of works including widening the beaches and the restructuring of underground networks of the South Roadway. They also include improvement of the Roseraie car park, located on Pointe Croisette, and redevelopment of Port Canto with the creation of the "Espace Grand Large". A beautiful place in the heart of the port that hosts a belvedere onto the Croisette and new internationally renowned retail establishments.
Other municipal projects will complement these investments, such as renovation of the salon and office of the Ambassadeurs and the "inner street" of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes.



IV.   More modern, attractive pontoons

Continuing the developments carried out to modernise and make the Croisette more secure, the Town Hall will undertake improvement work to renovate the various works present on the seafront. This will concern the pontoon of the public beach of Macé, as well as the private pontoons in front of the Martinez, Carlton and Marriott hotels. This work aims to improve the facilities and their integration into the landscape.
Bathing activities will continue since municipal development work is planned for the winter periods. They will be carried out on the Macé sector at the end of 2022 and during the winters of 2023/2024 and 2024/2025 on the other areas. The total cost of these works amounts to 7 million euros excluding VAT.


V.    An exhibition area tripled in size at La Malmaison Art Centre

Since 2014, Cannes Town Hall has operated a proactive policy to extend access to culture for as many people as possible across the whole of the Cannes region. This transmission of art to everyone, regardless of age, origin or social position, is a major area of interest for David Lisnard.
As such, in July 2023, the municipality will launch renovation and modernisation work on its La Malmaison art centre, located in the heart of the Croisette. With a projected amount of 10 million euros including VAT, they aim to triple the exhibition area, from 207 m2 usable to 600 m2. The purpose of this work is to promote and enhance contemporary creation in the region. 
As such, the future development of La Malmaison will offer an artistic and cultural programme at a rate of three exhibitions per year, including two-thirds devoted to contemporary art, and a third to modern art, according to the following model:
-    an exhibition by an internationally recognised emerging contemporary artist;
-    an exhibition by a confirmed internationally recognised contemporary artist in the summer;
-    an exhibition by a modern artist linked to the history of Cannes.

The site will enjoy a new layout and include:
-    exhibition spaces on three floors (ground, 1st and 2nd floors) that allow immersive and interactive scenographies and installations;
-    a multimodal hall that will host high-level conferences, artistic activities, concerts and shows related to the programming;
-    a bookshop specialising in art and contemporary creation beyond just exhibition catalogues, to increase Cannes' offer in this area;
-    an attractive reception area to extend the visit by taking advantage of the unique location of La Malmaison facing the panorama of the Bay of Cannes;
-    the forecourt, used as a free extension to the exhibition.

In addition, the city’s aim is to design a museography that respects the history and environment of the place. This reorganisation will strengthen actions in the field of artistic and cultural education (ACE) for schoolchildren, as well as interventions for other audiences. Eventually, it’s expected that 80,000 visitors will attend year-round, against 17,138 on average at present. Delivery of the building is scheduled for December 2024.

VI.    The different stages of the improvement and redevelopment programme of the Croisette



  • Phase 1, widening the beaches, from November 2017 to March 2019

The beaches of the Croisette – over a 1.4 km stretch between the public beaches of Zamenhof in the east and Macé in the west – have been enlarged to a depth of 40 m (double the area) thanks to the addition of 180,000 m3 of sand by land and sea. In addition, security work has been carried out at Macé Beach with the installation of retractable bollards, as well as operations to bury gas networks and modernise rainwater outfalls. In a second step, between September 2019 and March 2020, the two public beaches enjoyed an additional land-based addition. Today, they offer summer holidaymakers a spacious, aesthetic destination.

  • Phase 2, renovation of bathing establishments, from September 2018 to March 2020

The City of Cannes launched the renovation of the 22 bathing establishments to improve and harmonise their appearance. It also required of their operators a very high-quality specification, including in particular more aesthetic wooden roofs, more efficient anti-odour filters and creative, stylish architectural projects. In addition, actions to prevent natural risks, improve bathing water quality and work to remove asbestos from networks and old buildings have been carried out.


  • Phase 3 (ongoing), upgrading and modernising the promenade, from October 2021 to December 2025 

A sustainable, complete restructuring of the obsolete water-based underground networks (drinking water, sanitation and rainwater) is essential before modernising the outer surface. Costing €35 million excluding VAT, this action, led by the Cannes Lérins Agglomeration and SICASIL, responds to the priority challenges of combatting flood risk and protecting the environment and the Mediterranean. As a result, surveys of the subsoil were carried out to refine the sizing of future structures to be built in October 2021. Work on the South Roadway took place from the end of January to July 2022. This consisted of renewing the drinking water and sewerage networks that serve the bathing establishments, namely the beach managers. This operation will be repeated for the North Roadway from the end  of October 2022 to supply hotels, shops and homes. As part of this process, the Croisette's wastewater runoff collection pipes will also be replaced and have greater capacity.

At the same time, the sewerage transmission network will be restructured using the microtunnelling technique. This is a pipe of very large diameter (2000 millimetres) over a length of 2.2 km, from Square de la Roseraie to Esplanade Maréchal Leclerc. This innovative process will create a single conduit to recover all the wastewater from the Cannes basin and transport it to the Aquaviva wastewater treatment plant, near Cannes Mandelieu airport. This technology will help maintain the circulation of vehicles and buses throughout the works.

Finally, a heating network will be installed for the development of a thalassothermal system. This arrangement aims to recover heat energy from the sea to supply the buildings of the Croisette with heat and cooling. This operation will be completed in December 2023. The thalassothermal production plant will be deployed by 2025-2026.

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