The European Prize for Urban Public Space is a biennial competition that aims to recognise and encourage the creation, recovery and improvement of public space in the understanding that the state of public space is a clear indicator of the civic and collective health of our cities.
Nantes, was awarded an Special Mention under this prize with the projet Mémorial de l’abolition de l’esclavage The city turned its back on the memory of its shameful relationship with the slave trade until 1990 when an exhibition brought it explicitly to public attention. Some years later, the City Council earmarked seven and a half million euros for the transformation of the Quai de la Fosse into a space devoted to reflection on this history of slavery, commemoration of its abolition and making known the ongoing struggles against present-day forms of slavery. The intervention also aimed to improve the city’s relationship with the river.This work recovers a space of old infrastructure linked with a harsh history, that of the French slave trade. It is now public space at two levels. The lower part, the compressed form of which recalls the cramped conditions in the ships’ holds has been transformed into a memorial space, while the upper level is a riverside walk where once there was a car park.
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