The renovated train station at Penhoët, the result of a collaboration between regional public institutions, L’École de design Nantes Atlantique and the people of Saint-Nazaire, confirms the importance of design in politics.
The new stop at Penhoët was unveiled on 2 May 2016 by David Samzun, Mayor of Saint-Nazaire, Alain Hunault, elected member of the Pays de La Loire Regional Council and Sandrine Chinzi, SNCF Network Regional Director. The renovation, which is the result of a collaboration between regional public institutions, L’École de design Nantes Atlantique and the people of Saint-Nazaire, confirms the importance of design in politics.
A project involving rail users, launched in 2012
In May 2012, the Pays de la Loire Region, SNCF Réseau, SNCF Mobilités, CARENE and the town of Saint-Nazaire launched Citizens’ Rail, the European project and renovation programme for Penhoët station. The aim was to increase rail use by means of citizen projects taking place between 2012 and September 2015. Carole Gary, responsible for the project in the Pays de la Loire region, approached the École de design Nantes Atlantique and asked students to come up with a variety of development concepts to encourage discussion of the different approaches with the public and project stakeholders. Students worked alongside the Réseau Ferré de France (French Rail Network) and Gares et Connexions (Stations and Connections) professionals, to learn about technical constraints and make the projects as realistic as possible.
18 third-year spatial design students from the school, supervised by Lydie Morand and David Comy, worked on the Penhoët station renovation project. Nine works were created and exhibited in the annex of the Méan - Penhoët town hall from 5 to 23 February 2012 before being displayed at the Hôtel de Ville from 26 February to 9 March 2012, giving the people of Saint-Nazaire the opportunity to express their views.
A project where design bridges the gap between local authorities and citizens
This exhibition led to a public consultation and discussions with visitors to obtain their views on the displayed works.
In 2013, Sylvain Toldo and Antoine Lemesle’s concept was chosen. Students will be able to follow the concept’s progress as it is further developed by Gares et Connexions. "We were able to present our point of view on the modified project at a progress meeting. Gares et Connexions and all of the project’s partners were very receptive to our comments and remarks," said Sylvain Toldo. This is a real opportunity for students to see how, at the development stage, technical, normative and financial constraints come into play and force designers to reinterpret the initial concept.
Penhoët station has become an example of design in public politics
Renovating the station has provided users with many new features, including new lighting and signage, access to glass-walled passenger shelters, fresh paintwork and illuminated red tubes along the walkway linking Penhoët to Herbins. There are frescos created by Plus de Couleurs, a collective of artists, reflecting Saint-Nazaire’s identity, economy and heritage. In addition, there are new real-time information boards to display departures and 16 designated parking spots for bicycles on the Herbins side. The stairs have been completely renovated and the shelters waterproofed.
Firmly rooted in the area, Penhoët train station has become a gateway to the town of Saint-Nazaire and is visible and accessible to all both day and night. It is also a testimony to the success of this type of project with its many decision-makers, advisors and users.