VITRÉ – The Pole d’Echange Multimodal (PEM) – a sort of ‘transport system’ in non-direct translation – connects the local SNCF train station with the centre of a quaint town on the eastern perimeter of Brittany. French firm Tetrarc took references from the architectural language of the medieval town to improve pedestrian access across the high-speed railway track.
As well as the contemporary footbridge, the PEM incorporates a car park which, despite boasting a capacity of over 600 spaces, is almost entirely unnoticeable, contoured into the landscape and disguised in a camouflage of green roofing.
The town of Vitré is known for its high concentration of listed buildings and the train station itself is a registered monument because of its ‘remarkable regional interest’. Tetrarc used the sensitive nature of the location as inspiration for the shaping of the PEM footbridge that traverses the car park and spans the railway lines, as well as the materials – such as chestnut shingles that clad the balustrade – which are based on their subtle references to the medieval turrets.
A collection of angular huts – intended to resemble decomposed towers – is distributed along the bridge. These follies complement the footpath by engaging the public with the landscape and encouraging a moment’s rest. An observation platform breaks out from the route and extends like an open hand towards the town centre, offering the picturesque view of the fairy tale castle.