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Yverdon-les-Bains scoops design award

The Vaud vocational training centre was one of the recent projects in Yverdon-les-Bains to attract acclaim

(Keystone)

The town of Yverdon-les-Bains has been awarded the prestigious 2009 Wakker Heritage Prize for its attempts to reshape its urban landscape.

The Swiss Heritage Society awards the prize every year to a town or village in recognition of successful urban planning developments.

The town in western Switzerland was singled out for its management of public spaces for its 25,000 residents and collaboration with neighbouring towns and villages.

The society drew particular attention to "convincing" plans to link the heart of the old town with the Neuchâtel lakeside, previously separated by an industrial park. The first stage, a lakeside park, was inaugurated last year and has led to renewed appreciation for the area.

The society said the town had first come to their attention with its acclaimed revamping of the Place de la Gare for the Swiss National Exhibition in 2002.

New developments such as the bright pink Vaud psychiatric centre, the modern styled vocational training centre and the transformation of court buildings had attracted architectural and urban planning interest.

Meanwhile the old town had remained a lively and authentic area, with subtle renovation projects such as the contemporary Jules Verne walkway in the Maison d'Ailleurs museum, which the society said was in harmony with the historic building.

Town identity

A major factor in winning the award was the aggloY expansion project, backed by the Federal Office of Territorial Development, which the society said would promote urbanisation and movement between nine towns.

The society said the project was testimony to the planning and development ambitions of the town authorities, who remained true to their goal of reinforcing their town identity.

In acknowledging the award on Tuesday, Yverdon-les-Bains town president, Rémy Jaquier, said the prize was a real honour for the town.

"This prestigious recognition gives legitimacy to our steps in the fields of urban planning, management of public spaces and the preservation of heritage buildings," he said.

"This Wakker Prize supports all those who have worked passionately for the development of this new image of Yverdon-les-Bains."

It is the third town in canton Vaud to receive the award after St Prex in 1973 and Montreux in 1990.

The official presentation of the SFr20,000 ($17,800) prize will take place on June 27 as part of a public celebration.

swissinfo

WAKKER PRIZE

The Wakker Prize, bequeathed by Geneva businessman Henri-Louis Wakker, has been awarded annually by the Swiss Heritage Society since 1972.

It goes to a town or village that demonstrates an exemplary performance in the development of town planning and appearance.

A specialist committee evaluates numerous candidates every year and compares their commitment to building culture. The prizewinner is chosen by the society's board of directors based on the recommendations of the committee.

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