Category Archives: Urbanism

Posts about urbanism

The Struggle for a Bigger Paris

In many cities, growth has led to a situation where the metropolitan area is considerably bigger than the city proper. Paris, where the city limits remain frozen as they were in 1860, is an extreme case of this phenomenon.

Today only 21% of dwellers of the Parisian “urban unit” live in the municipality of Paris, which covers a scant 4% of the metropolitan territory. This situation hampers policy development and implementation for the metropolis and is increasingly seen as an unnecessary handicap for Paris in the global competition among cities.

The question, in this election year, is whether Paris will be able to achieve its first expansion in more than 150 years, whether it will finally be able to give itself a government at the scale of the metropolis.

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Seine Rive Gauche

Seine Rive Gauche is beginning to come to life. Covering 320 acres (130 hectares), it is, according to its developer, the largest development project in Paris since Haussmann’s time.

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Time to Transform the Île de la Cité?

The Île de la Cité can appear to be just another timeless part of Paris, untouched for centuries, to be preserved as it is and has always been. In reality, it is a relatively recently remodeled space, one of the least successful of the undertakings of George-Eugène Haussmann while he was Prefect of the Seine. It is, I believe, one of Paris’s major twenty-first century urban planning challenges, one that will play a critical role in signaling what kind of city Paris is to become.

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Parc Clichy-Batignolles – Martin Luther King

The new Batignolles neighborhood is going up in the north-west of Paris. Well before the rest of the area is ready, the City of Paris has opened up a public park, the Parc Martin Luther King. Although it is in the middle of a construction site and vacant lots, with the buildings that would presumably provide its patrons not even built yet, this park is already vibrant and lively, completely appropriated by the residents of the area.

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Place de la République

Construction begins this week on the new Place de la République, a project 150 years in the making.

At 300 yards by 130 yards, the Place de la République is one of the largest squares in Europe. But its lay-out has been a problem that has bedeviled urban designers since Gabriel Davioud was first entrusted with its design in the 1860s.

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The New Bercy Neighborhood

The Bercy neighborhood is frequently used an example of successful contemporary urban planning. One of its successes it to have created a real neighborhood out of nothing on an initially unpromising site. But the other, perhaps more distinctive characteristic of this operation is to have created an urban form which is highly ordered yet diverse, modern yet still recognizably in the tradition of Parisian urban design. It was worth telling the story of this exemplary urban project.

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Le Grand Paris – Part 4: Where Things Stand

[Note: this is the 4th and final part of a series. If you have not yet read them, you may want to first read Part 1: The LaunchPart 2: The International Consultation, and Part 3: Moving To Implementation]

On October 10, 2011, President Nicolas Sarkozy was back at the Cité de l’Architecture for what had by now become a tradition of a biennial visit. He summarized where Le Grand Paris stood:

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Le Grand Paris – Part 3: Moving to Implementation

[Note: this is part 3 of a series. If you have not yet read them, you may want to first read Part 1: The Launch and Part 2: The International Consultation]

On April 29th, 2009, the day of the opening of the public display of the work of the ten teams of the international consultation, President Sarkozy gave a speech. His words were ambitious: “[The future city] may be  the greatest political challenge of the twenty-first century. I want France to meet that challenge. I want France to give the example. That is the ambition of Le Grand Paris.

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Le Grand Paris – Part 2: The International Consultation

[Note: this is part 2 of a series. If you have not yet read it, you might want to start with Part 1: The Launch]

After ten months of work, the output of the international consultation on Le Grand Paris was presented to President Sarkozy on March 13th, 2009. Continue reading

Le Grand Paris – Part 1: The Launch

Anyone could be forgiven for being confused about what is going on with Le Grand Paris, Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential ambition to reinvent Greater Paris for the future. This week, Sarkozy gave a speech at the Cité de l’Architecture marking four years since his initial speech, in the same venue, announcing Le Grand Paris. A perfect opportunity for a summary of where we stand. Continue reading