Recreating nature in cities: a research program for the river’s renaturation in the Greater Lyon

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Alexandre Brun
Llewella Maléfant
Hervé Caltran
Jérôme Albertin


From the 19th century, in Western Europe, urban sanitation was meant to create sewers as well as bury small rivers. With the impulse of environmental laws, engineering schemes that once aimed at shaping vegetation around the city is now trying to reintroduce it in the most natural way possible.

In that context, river restoration appears to be a strategic tool for the development of cities. It is also about linking districts to each other with plant pathways, creating public spaces, all while dealing with the issue of heat islands. River restoration designates the re-establishment of a river's natural functions, which used to be highly anthropized.

After a rhetorical review, the paper deals with the firsts results of Lyon’s river restoration research program. This research program is enacted by the Greater Lyon, the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research) and an engineering agency Artelia. The paper especially treats the subject of Rize’s restoration. A former river which was entirely buried in the 19th century. This study contributes to the research on the “shallow” concept of a sustainable city through the consideration of the benefits and shortcomings of recreating a river in a dense urban area.


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BrunA., MaléfantL., CaltranH., & AlbertinJ. (2017). Recreating nature in cities: a research program for the river’s renaturation in the Greater Lyon. UPLanD - Journal of Urban Planning, Landscape & Environmental Design, 2(1), 187-198.


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