Postcard from Bordeaux, France: Blending touches of modernity in with the old

Above: The view from our bedroom window in our rental in Bordeaux

Mysterious mushrooms appeared popping up from the traditional tile rooftops surrounding our temporary headquarters in the midst of the historic center of Bordeaux. And tucked behind the residential building next door was a contemporary adaptation of space for brightening up offices – most likely for attorneys, as shingles on first floors all around us seemed to have as primary occupants.

As we explored, we found the mushrooms sprout up from a major ultra-modern addition behind the 1846 Palais de Justice fronting Place de Republique. Architect Joseph Adolphe Thiac (1800-1865) drew his inspiration for the impressive fa├žade of the original structure from the Parthenon. Not visible from the square, the new construction does not intrude upon the classical majesty of Thiac’s design.

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Postcard from Bordeaux, France: A revolutionary evolution of responsible development

With the installation of a new bridge across the Garonne on the horizon, in 2008 the city of Bordeaux purchased a large compound of old military barracks on the right bank of the river with an eye toward tearing them down to stimulate economic development. The timing proved fortuitous for a young man, Philippe Barre, growing restless with his tech business, Inoxia, in a small town in Bordeaux.

Barre presented the concept for a green business center in the barracks to the ambitious mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppe, who was jockeying for a shot at the Best European City Award. The proposal appeared to have sparked the interest of one of the judges, so it received a green light.

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