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Opponents bid for public vote on Lausanne tower

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Opponents bid for public vote on Lausanne tower
Rendering of proposed tower. Photo: City of Lausanne/Pont 12 Architectes
23:00 CET+01:00
Opposition is mounting against a 27-storey tower proposed for Lausanne in a low-rise neighbourhood of the city.

The Taoua, an 85-metre-high structure incorporating condos, rental apartments, a 200-room hotel and a rooftop restaurant near the Beaulieu convention and exposition centre, would be the tallest building in the Vaud capital.

The project, advanced by developers Losinger Marazzi, is backed by a majority of city council but is opposed by a coalition of diverse interest groups and politicians.

The coalition, including local neighbourhood associations and members of the Lausanne Greens, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, the Green Liberals and La Gauche (a left-wing party), aims to put the project to a referendum.

A referendum committee said it has collected 10,721 signatures which it plans to submit to authorities on Monday, well above the 8,443 needed to force a public vote.

The 100-million-franc Taoua project has been modified several times since initially being presented in 2011.

In September, the municipal council voted 55 to 32 in favour of the revamped scheme, with backing from members of the Socialist and Liberal (PLR) parties.

“This project will integrate itself perfectly in the site,” said Olivier Français, the executive municipal councillor in charge of public works and a member of the PLR, according to a recent report from the ATS news agency.

Plans were modified to incorporate more housing — a total of 80 apartments are envisaged, occupying almost 11,000 square metres of the Taoua’s total floor space of 25,500 square metres.

Two-thirds of these would be condos while one-third would be offered with controlled rents at the lower end of market prices, according to the city.

A study concluded that the tower would have minimal effect on traffic in the area, in part because the tower is located along the city’s proposed third metro line (M3).

But opponents disagree, saying the project will clog traffic and make parking, already difficult in the area, even more of a headache.

The prime objections appear to be aesthetic, however, with critics unhappy about how the proposed building with its irregularly designed windows, would stick out like a sore thumb in the neighbourhood where the tallest buildings are only six storeys high.

In presenting its objections last month, the referendum committee noted that the site is on a slope and in other Swiss cities, such as Zurich or Lucerne, towers are banned from such locations.

The project is backed by Lausanne’s Green Mayor Daniel Brélaz, despite objections from members of his own party.

“The Greens are divided on urban issues, it’s in their DNA,” Brélaz recently told Le Temps while downplaying the divisions.

The mayor believes that the latest version of the Tatoua project has addressed all previous concerns “except obviously those who don’t want a tower”, according to ATS.

He earlier touted one of the attributes of the tall building — the panoramic restaurant at the top.

“It will not only be one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the city but also in Suisse Romande (French-speaking Switzerland),” Brélaz was quoted as saying by 24 Heures newspaper.  

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