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La Croisette: A permanent red carpet for Cannes

Laura Puttkamer

Snøhetta rolls out the red carpet in Cannes. With the award-winning design “Spotlight”, the office wants to renovate La Croisette and restore prestige and elegance to this world-famous beach promenade.

Copyright: Atelier d'Urbanité Roland Castro & Snøhetta




Snøhetta rolls out the red carpet in Cannes. With the award-winning design “Spotlight”, the office wants to renovate La Croisette and restore prestige and elegance to this world-famous beach promenade.

The new Boulevard de La Croisette in Cannes

Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta has won the competition for upgrading and modernising the Boulevard de La Croisette in Cannes. Together with French partner L’Atelier d’urbanité Roland Castro and engineering firm WSP, Snøhetta aims to build on the great success of this iconic street. The winning design is inspired by Art Deco and references the palaces of Cannes. Revamping the boulevard will result in a greener, more open, and accessible space. It will take the shape of an urban red carpet and include new amenities and more comfort.

The famous bay walk in Cannes is part of France’s cultural heritage. The prominent road stretches along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It is about 2 kilometres long and hosts the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the famous Cannes Film Festival is held. Luxurious shops, restaurants, and hotels line the boulevard, which encircles the coastline of Cannes.

Currently, the design of the Croisette boulevard dates back to the 1960s. However, it originates from the late 1800s. Lord Brougham first discovered the beauty of the Bay of Cannes and settled close to the promenade, which resulted in the construction of a boulevard. Once a scenic coastal route, today the Croisette is a bustling boulevard framed by buildings and beaches. The most exclusive beaches are connected to the palaces.

Snøhetta’s Spotlight design will transform the Cannes boulevard into a red carpet. Copyright: Atelier d'Urbanité Roland Castro & Snøhetta

Giving the Croisette the status that it deserves

Snøhetta’s “Spotlight” proposal wants to restore prestige and elegance to the world-famous waterfront promenade, thus enhancing the Croisette to the status that it deserves. “The Croisette is the social backbone of Cannes. Its circular shape embraces the bay and creates a series of connections between the public, the city, and the sea. Our design is a tribute to the inherent qualities of this iconic waterfront”, Snøhetta’s cofounder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen says.

Snøhetta is aiming to create an open public space with local qualities, respectfully building on the great success of the Croisette. Following its circular shape, the proposal includes a regular repetition of stairs leading to the beaches and looking out to the Mediterranean Sea. According to the architectural firm, this will create an enticing and emotional rhythm.

There will also be a new paving, acting as a new urban red carpet. This is designed to reflect the old Suquet neighbourhood as well as the vivid red from the nearby Massif de l’Estérel. Spotlights will highlight the main points of interest along the boulevard, such as the Palaces, the beach accesses, and the Palais des Festivals. Every spotlight takes the shape of a small plaza with intricate golden details, which will enhance the status and appearance of the Croisette.

The promenade follows the Mediterranean Sea and allows access to beaches. Copyright: Atelier d'Urbanité Roland Castro & Snøhetta

Urban furniture for the boulevard

In the proposed design, Snøhetta will pay particular attention to sourcing local materials. The company’s product design team has already designed a collection of custom urban furniture. This will include benches, lighting, and shading adapted to the Croisette. Soft benches emerging from the ground will echo the Estérel shapes. The lighting will be influenced by Cannes’ Art Deco history. All along the waterfront, there will be increased shaded areas for visitors.

The project also includes a strategy for biodiversity, water management, and green mobility. The holistic environmental strategy will increase the presence of vegetation along the promenade with Mediterranean species. These are specifically chosen for their climate resiliency and richness and will contribute to the biodiversity of the Croisette. In addition, new water features will be introduced to help refresh the promenade.

Another element of Snøhetta’s proposal is the increase in green mobility for pedestrians and cyclists. By providing a universally accessible promenade, the studio wants to generate new ways of enjoying the Croisette. These will include unique features to foster social interaction, as well as reorganised traffic lanes for improved public safety.

Green mobility and accessibility are key principles for the Croisette design by Snøhetta. Copyright: Atelier d'Urbanité Roland Castro & Snøhetta

A new jewel box

The French title for Snøhetta’s project is “un nouvel écrin pour la Croisette”, which translates to “a new jewel box for the Croisette”. The City of Cannes is the client and partner architect L’Atelier d’urbanité Roland Castro and engineering firm WSP will contribute to the landscape design. The first phase of the 2,6 kilometre-long redesign is expected to be completed in 2025. Phase 2 is scheduled for 2027 and phases 3 and 4 for the year 2028.

Every May, the Cannes Film Festival brings close to 100,000 visitors to the city. To bring new prestige and celebrate the iconic destination, they will soon be able to walk on the red urban carpet. The greener, more permeable design still pays tribute to the original character of the famous boulevard, while reviving the waterfront promenade.

Read more: Another exciting project by Snøhetta is the Helsinki Train Station.

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