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Rehabilitation of the former Matra site in Romorantin-Lanthenay: a flood-resistant district

A project proposed by French Ministry of Ecological Transition

Buildings Design Network Local life


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A district that ensures openness to nature and at the same time shelter from flooding:

The former Matra site - formerly owned by the Normant factory from 1806 to 1969 - was located on 6 hectares in the centre of Romorantin-Lanthenay, along the Sauldre river.

The redevelopment of this site required decontamination work adapted to its future use. Apart from the parts of the former Normant factory listed as Historic Monuments, all the existing buildings were demolished to carry out the project, for which the risk of flooding, which had not been taken into account at the start of the operation (the flood risk prevention plan was in progress), became the guiding principle:

A maximum right-of-way of 20% has left room for 80% of landscape (de-artificialisation of the factory grounds) in natural regulation. The new buildings, mainly collective housing (mainly social), are built with garages in water retention in slight excavation, individual housing on piles at the height of the highest known water level (+1.50m) with the appearance of a 'wash boat' to initiate a risk culture. The landscape also contributes to an open understanding of the hazards and the reduction of their impact (rainwater retention basins, sheltered pedestrian walkways, hydraulic transparency, etc.). etc.). A new urbanity was made to preserve the safety of people and property in the event of flooding... which was verified during the 2016 floods.

The conversion of the Matra site corresponds to a reappropriation of space in the city center carried out with a view to social diversity and nature in the city, while integrating the various constraints of the site.

Themes : 
  • Rénovation / Réhabilitation
  • Quality of housing
  • Planning
  • Large water cycle
  • Heritage
Scale : 
  • District


marker  Centre-Val de Loire / Romorantin-Lanthenay
Type of territory : 
  • < 20,000 inhabitants
Built-up surface area :  12,000 m² of building space and 48,000 m² of natural regulation area
Project cost :  Square: € 2.500.000 euros excl. tax, / Roads and other networks: € 3.000.000 excl. tax / Building constructions: € 1.500.000 excl. tax
Project manager :  Romoranthin-Lanthenay town hall
Project owner :  Architect Eric DANIEL-LACOMBE
Associated partners :  Landscaper: Bernard LASSUS


Labels / certifications :  Consultation on renewable energy and implementation of heat pumps, thermodynamic balloons, preferential orientation of facades, semi-detached housing, carport parking and protected networks under the road to cope with flooding
Competitions / prizes :  2015 Planning Award "How to build better on floodable land". Winner of the "Geste d'Or" 2020 with 3F

Project evaluation*

based on contributor declaration

Criteria n°1: SUFFICIENCY

The industrial site was in fact very artificial, either because of the buildings that covered a large part of the land, or because of the internal roads. The demolition of 80% of the land in favour of natural regulations has led to a very significant renaturation of the site.

In the case of flooding, all of the excavated material was placed under the road as an embankment, thus ensuring that it was drained away from the water.

Consultation on renewable energy and implementation of heat pumps, thermodynamic balloons, preferential orientation of facades, semi-detached housing, carport parking and protected networks under the road to cope with flooding.

The sufficiency of urban areas in the face of natural risks is a criterion for reducing vulnerability.

Criteria n°2: INCLUSION

The consultation between the state services and the flood risk prevention plan and the mayor’s wishes for the centrality of a city were the subject of a real consultation and even of a creative maieutic led by the architect.

Presence of collective housing and individual housing.

Property for rent or home ownership.

Residence with services to promote generational diversity.

Administrative buildings.

Central garden with retention basin.

The 3F Jacques Gabriel company (social housing in the Centre-Val de Loire region) participated in the project. The aim is to rediscover both a social link and a life with nature thanks to the innovations of these open shelter habitats.

The flood of 2016, where the inhabitants were able to react favourably to this risk, was a moment of great cultural transformation.

Criteria n°3: RESILIENCE

The risk of flooding from the Sauldre river has strongly influenced the project. The local authority carried out a hydraulic study of the area in order to gain a better understanding of the flows.

During the 2016 flooding of the Sauldre river, a flood of more than 100 years, the site was flooded. The measures taken as part of the project (first level dedicated to parking, raising the living levels to 30 cm above the highest water level considered at the time, etc.) made it possible to limit the impact of the flood (living levels not flooded just above the 2016 flood for some).


Criteria n°4 : CREATIVITY

Architecture and use in flood-prone areas is articulated between an evaluation of the problems linked to natural risks and the invention of new uses but also of new sensitive forms.

Yes . around an exploration of the forms and conditions of exercising the maieutic of conducting an architectural project.


Last criteria: potential of replicability ?

The choices made to reduce vulnerability to flood risk can be used in other projects. They must be adapted to the local problem.

The involvement of the project owner and the responsiveness of the project manager, combined with partnership work with the State services, have enabled a mixed-use project to be completed that takes into account the constraints of the site.

The production of this project made it possible to prepare the opening up to humans and non-humans of the future inhabitants.

About Solène

Mission Officer, Working Group, and Projects. Student at the Urban School of Sciences Po Paris, focusing on the ecological transition of cities.

About Quentin

Motivated by climate issues and planetary boundaries, Quentin decided to study land use planning at the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées. His experience in associative field at the Fresque du Climat, helped him to better understand the stakes of the ecological bifurcation. Between his native Haute-Savoie and his home town Rennes, where he gained expertise in mobility and sustainable agriculture, he is now based in Paris to deploy the Sustainable City by France’s territorial workshops throughout the country.

About Alice

After five years’ study at Sciences Po Lyon, with a specialization in territorial transitions, Alice joined Sustainable City by France (France Villes et territoires Durables). She actively contributes to the deployment of the association’s territorial workshops and working groups.
See her LinkedIn profile 

Currently studying as a second-year Master’s student in International Relations at University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Tara holds a Bachelor’s degree from INALCO, with a double-major in Hindi language, and International relations / Environmental studies. Her work with us is in line with her former experiences at UNESCO and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, thus deepening her professional expertise in the field of environmental diplomacy and international cooperation for sustainable development.

See her LinkedIn profile


She holds a Master’s degree in Development Economics from the Panthéon-Sorbonne University and is currently studying for a Master’s degree in International Relations and Action Abroad at the same university. She approaches the problems of sustainable cities and territories through these different perspectives and her international experiences.

About Isabelana

Isabelana is a Mexican journalist who holds a Master’s degree in Digital Communication and Data Analysis from the Sorbonne University. She previously worked in communication and press relations in the cultural sector in France and Mexico. Today, she is interested in ecological actions and solutions to preserve the environment and the biodiversity.

About Camille

camille photo
With a background in social sciences, art history and architecture, Camille has worked in communication within the VINCI group: from major international projects to La Fabrique de la Cité, a think tank dedicated to urban foresight.

About Alexandra

A geographer by training (Saint Petersburg State University), she started as a geographer and economist at the Academy of Agricultural Economics (Russia), before pursuing her career in France as an administrative and accounting assistant (Air Liquide, Association TGV Provence Côte d’Azur, COFHUAT, Groupe Hervé)

About Marion

Trained in international and European affairs between England and France as part of a double degree at Sciences-Po Lille / University of Kent, Marion started her career in advocacy and institutional relations of non-governmental organisations, in the fair trade sector (Max Havelaar France label). Her experiences are also linked to territories, with a passage in decentralised cooperation at the level of a departmental council.

About Sébastien

Before joining the SCbF team, he held several positions in local government management. From elected official and deputy mayor of his native city Besançon, in charge of university relations and international cooperation, to Director of Economic Development of the City of Pantin, to Chief of staff in Montreuil – where he notably piloted the in-depth redesign of the urban project towards more ecology and sustainable development – he continued his career as Senior Resilience Officer of the City of Paris.
He promotes a holistic and systemic vision of sustainable development and brings his expertise in territorial resilience, ecological and social transition.