Dam on the river Meurthe in Nancy

Nancy’s “hydraulic machine” is well and truly integrated into the urban context and now forms a link between the center of the city and the districts on the other side of the river.

The project rests on four main principles:

  • The river: the frontier between the water and the earth is systematically treated with Reno mattress for the banks and with gabions for the quays on the right bank.
  • The topography: in relation with the geography, the left bank is treated as an embankment and the right bank as a quay.
  • The urban context: the treatment “dilates” according to the elements it meets.
  • The barrage: it forms an urban link between the two banks. The two abutment piers have been created using a common language with the gabion quays. Only the dissymmetry is reasserted: on the right bank the great lengths of wall are parallel with the Meurthe, on the left bank the supports are orthogonal and strengthen the place of convergence between the Meurthe and the canal that conveys water to the mills.

The left bank, flood plain

In Nancy, we took up the character of the existing embankments and continued in the throughout. It is a simple design, and we decided to retain its simplicity in the new works. The right bank is divided into two levels, while the left one is embanked along its length. It was only at Ile Vilgrain, a site of past industrial activity, that we altered the design in order to recall the mills of old.

Below the dam, the river can be reached via a long, slightly sloping embankment. A double stairway is provided upstream, where isolated groups of houses of the Port aux Planches district emerge in the background, connected to the water by wide steps.

The dam, a link

The dam, which is linked to the embankments by means of the gabioned inlets, mainly consist of two elements; a stationary crest with concrete slats over which the water flows, and shutters that are used to regulate the upstream flow regime. The wing walls are streamlined to fit the flow of water and correspond in size not only to the hydrological and static requirements of the structure but also to the movements of the hoisting gear used to adjust the shutters.

Pedestrians can cross the river at two places. One consists of a walkway along the top of the dam, leading from the right bank to the Ile Vilgrain. The other, continuing from the island to the left bank, crosses the canal flowing into the river. Since this is naturally a smaller structure, we made it simpler designed to underscore the hierarchy of the two bridges. In reference to Nancy’s industrial character, both crossways are made of simple steel girders.

The steep right bank

Nancy local governement
Allée du Port aux Planches, Nancy - 48°41’59.79’’N / 6°11’50.96’’E
Stucky, Consulting engineer hydrology - Venna Ingénierie & Vantellerie
Budget / Area
6 100 000 € / 1 km
1995 - 1997