Toulouse Métropole (FR)


Project Scales XL/L/S - Territorial, urban and architectural

Location Metropolitan Toulouse + Cities of Balma, L’Union & Toulouse

Population Metropolitan Toulouse: 748,149 inhab.

Strategic site 5.3 sqkm – Project site Prat Gimont 42 ha, Vallée de l’Hers 38 ha, Montredon : 44 ha

Site proposed by / Actors involved Toulouse Metropole, Cities of Balma, L’Union and Toulouse, aua/Toulouse (Urban planning Agency of Toulouse)

Owners of the site Toulouse Metropole, Cities of Balma, L’Union and Toulouse, private owners

Post-competition phase urban and architectural feasibility studies and/or project to initiate with the partners

Team representative architect, uban planner, lanscaper

More Information

How can the site contribute to the productive city?

The site includes a large concentration of business activities: commercial and artisanal spaces, a dynamic business district and high-quality services. There is also a large range of housing types: single-family residential areas, Balma Gramont ZAC - joint development zone (1660 units planned). The challenge is to upgrade a heterogeneous area rich in contrasts: uniting zones that have degraded with those that are emerging.
In a highly competitive environment (many projects are being developed in the metropolitan area), the site has to find new force.
The city and municipalities wish to guide the changes already at work on this site towards a variety of functions that would reinforce productive activity. What urban composition and mix of architectural typology should be proposed?

City strategy

City: Establish a commercial and business role for Balma Gramont around a strong, mixed identity and thus maintain the site in the face of increasing competition. Highlight the quality of the landscape, sports and cultural facilities, form a symbol of identity. Extend the city from Argoulets as well as from the ZAC all the way to the metro station Balma Gramont. Work on the quality of entrances to the city or cities (RD 112).
Municipalities: In the town of Balma, find the right balance between two opposing centres: the small town centre and the metropolitan business centre. Solve the problem of isolation of the joint development zone ZAC. In the town of L’Union, establish the future of the southern edge, which is peripheral for the town and yet confronted by metropolitan pressures (property values). In Toulouse, find the right connection between Balma Gramont and Les Argoulets.

Site definition 

The site of Balma Gramont Porte Métropolitaine, the north-eastern entrance to metropolitan Toulouse, is a major economic and business centre reached by metro line A. It is next to the large joint development zone ZAC Balma Gramont (currently under construction). The study site extends over three communities: Balma, L’Union and Toulouse. This is the only part of Toulouse beyond the ring road, entrance north of Balma and south of L’Union. This territory brings together a topography, that becomes more distinct toward the east, of relatively impermeable urban islands and strong territorial cuts: highway, the ring road, the RD112, rail lines and waterways that form barriers and very fews possibilites for crossing. The city and countryside meet here: the valley of the Hers, Garrigue creek and the Balma hills.

How is Production Considered in the Urban Diversity Program?

Hers Valley, Urban doorway – The break in the landscape created by the Hers Valley and the fracture created by the ring road are on the threshold to the city of Toulouse. Although on the periphery, Balma Gramont is a peak of urban intensity between economic-commercial centre and transit hub. The great diversity of activities located there (building & civil engenering, semi-urban commerce, drive-in, small artisanal workshops) must find a clean way of operating and a relationship to the landscape. How to breach this infrastructure and find a complementary connection between Argoulets and Balma Gramont?

Prat Gimont, In between – This aging business subdivision separates the ZAC from the metro station Balma Gramont. A study of the urban fabric can lead to a way (public space, programming, typology) of responding to two opposing elements, the need for artisanal activity and connecting Vidailhan to the city via the metro. CEAT (military research) delimits the neighbourhood. The Grainerie, a cultural facility within range of the metropol, is hemmed in and isolated: find a relationship with Vidailhan by going through Prat Gimont.

Montredon, Entrance(s) to the city – This sequential site poses the question of city entrances: accident-prone departmental road lined with plane trees, signage, businesses and artisan workshops. The housing (small apartment block) provides only a slightly successful break in the sequence. The hamlet of Gramont, a group of old houses linking two chateaux (Gramont and Thégra), punctuates this axis. The northern part of the ZAC connects here to the departmental road. What lifestyle (programming, architectural typology) is possible at this location dominating Balma Gramont from the hillside?

Balma Gramont ZAC: the residential district of Vidailhan
The commercial center and its parking silo, landscape
of buysiness and commercial zone


Hers valley, axis and landscaping potential structuring
Thégra castle, some of the site's heritage features


Questions on the site

Can we have access to the properties land register in order to know which parcels are owned by the different municipalities ?

A land register map of Gramont sector was added to the site visit report. It was also added to the downloadable documents of the complete site folder in "0-News_Docs_after_Launch". The file is called "FR-TOULOUSE-SS-M07.jpg"

Where is located the Duchène parcel ?

It is the DHL parcel as shown in the land register map of Gramont sector (above-mentioned)

What are the studied projects on the site ? (apart from the Vidailhan ZAC)

There are no other studied projects on the site.

What future is contemplated for the wasteland along the Hers river ? Is the sandpit meant to stay ?

The collectivity is attentive to all proposals

What is the profile of workers coming on the site during the day ? Are those profiles different according to North/South/Auchan zones ? Where do they come from ?

There is no visitors study of the Auchan site

Is wild car park, present on the entire site, due to workers, visitors, dwellers ?

Wild car park is due to :

- a lack of space regarding the needs following the mutation/densification of the Prat Gimont economic activiy zone
- a shift related to the "Park & Ride" fringing the subway
- a shift at the edge of the Vidailhan eco-district due to the parking pressure

Does the cement factory along the river function? Is it a quarry? And do they use the river water? What is the name of the company?

There is no cement factory along the river. It is actually the Malet factory located chemin de Gabardie. It is a public works company that stores road products but there is no manufacturing directly on site. There is no use of the Hers waters for any industrial activity.

Does the waste factory along the river function? What type of waste do they manage? What is the company name? If it’s functioning is it efficient or it needs interventions?

Yes it does. It treats houselhold wastes. This factory is managed by Toulouse Métropole and yes, it is efficient.

Should the aging commercial structures around Auchan (the hypermarket and the surrounding small structures) be kept and conserved or they can be demolished and redefined

Since the site visit, the collectivity organized a meeting with commercial project leaders who were already very interested by this approach. They reiterated their wish to see a significant change in this zone. Thus, there is no imposed limit.

What is the condition of the banks?

On the Toulouse metropolitan side, the banks are abrupt and wooded on the main part of the linear.

What are the quality and the condition of the Hers river ?

The ecological and chemical quality of the Hers river meets the European standards of the Water Frameword Directive that has been reported in French law under the 2016-2021 SDAGE of the Adour-Garonne basin. The initial state of the Hers is chemically good and ecologically mediocre. Good ecological state objectives are expected by 2027.

Is the water of L’Hers polluted?

The Hers river can experience punctual pollution episodes but it is not concernd by chronical pollution.

Are there fishes in the river?

Yes there is a fish fauna. To know what kind of fishes you can find in the Hers, you can contact the Fishing Federation of Haute-Garonne.

What is exactly the project about the river bank aiming to do?

The municipaliy is open to proposals

What is the state of the agricultural production in Montredon ?

The municipality doesn't have this kind of information

What do they mainly grow in Montredon ?

The municipality doesn't have this kind of information

Does agriculture need revival and reinforcement in Montredon ? Can it become the main economy of the area?

The municipality wants to keep agriculture on the site

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