When Jean-Paul Viossat, director of the Rhône Saone Développement, first opened his office in the Lyon Confluence district in 2004, the industrial zone was full of derelict buildings and empty streets. “We lived together with local prostitutes and drug addicts,” he recalls. "They were the only living souls in the area."
What a difference a decade can make. Today, the district, covering about a half of a square mile in the southern part of central Lyon, is dotted with renovated and newly constructed buildings—mostly modern in style—with dozens more planned for the future. In April, one of the area’s largest projects – Lyon Confluences’ Pôle de Loisirs et de Commerces (PLC) – was completed, a 700,000-square-foot shopping and recreation complex, including a hotel and multiplex, designed by Paris-based Jean-Paul Viguier. The project is hard to miss: rectangular volumes clad in wood are topped by a dramatic, undulating roof made of transparent panels that filter daylight into the building.