How Paris is Changing: New Projects
From an outsiders perspective it may often look like Paris holds up a very good image of being somewhat “stuck in the past”. Amongst the baroque architecture and cobble stone streets, modern developments can seem somewhat of a rarity.
Those of us on the inside know that this is not actually the case. At any given time in Paris there are a plethora of developments going on inside of the city and its current facilities.
What’s really put the city into full swing is the looming Olympic Games that will be held in Paris in 2024. Cities that host these games typically pour a ton of money and resources into projects that aim to make spaces more advanced and tourist friendly.
Paris is not necessarily tourist unfriendly as is, however there is always this silent competition that goes on between world powers to be the best of the best. And now it is Paris’ turn.
Olympics aside, the city of Paris is constantly open to improvements and upgrades when it comes to architecture, attractions and developments. There are many going on as you read this; some of which will only see completion late in the 2020s, and others that should be open to the public within the next few months.
What follows are some of the new projects that I am most excited about; particularly the ones that see attractions arising in some of the arrondissements that aren’t as well known as the ones that house the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe.
Keen to find out more? Read on.
Atelier des Lumière in Paris
38 Rue Saint-Maur
One of the most exciting new projects to open in Paris in years — in my opinion. The Atelier des Lumières is Paris’ first digital museum of fine art and is situated over in the 11th arrondissement.
I find the concept behind digital museums really beautiful. They aim to make art appealing and accessible to people who aren’t necessarily accustomed to roaming regular galleries in search of their famous pieces.
Basically Atelier des Lumières takes well known and highly successful pieces of fine art and projects them on 10m high digital screen walls in a massive exhibition space. The end result is a transformative experience that takes you on quite an introspective journey purely due to the overwhelming, immersive nature of the room.
This project has been years in the making and only recently opened its doors to the public. One of the biggest challenges that the operators faced was finding a suitable space in which to bring the project to life.
A few years ago an abandoned 19th century foundry came up in talks when looking at the 11th arrondissement. The production company managed to secure the main hall and annexes of the building in which to set up the digital space.
The 11th is home to the Oberkampf neighborhood, which is an exciting, up and coming part of town in Paris. This is definitely a hot spot for developments and the Atelier des Lumières is just forefront of what I’m sure will be a long line of attractions to open in the area.
Another great thing about digital museums is that they are just as enjoyable for children as they are for adults. You’ll be able to enjoy this space as a family; all taking very different interpretations and understandings from the art being displayed.
The digital museum concept is bound to spread through Paris following the success of the Atelier des Lumières. Visit soon to see what all the hype is about!
Extension of Opéra Bastille in Paris
Place de la Bastille
Another project that will be underway shortly in Paris is some remodeling and additions to the existing Opéra Bastille. The official opera house of the Paris National Opera currently stands in the 12th arrondissement in the city.
The intention is to add a new foyer, performance space and workshop to the existing space. The team that will be taking this project forward are the same group of individuals who brought the famous Louvre pyramid to life.
The renovations will take place on street level, and open up the building deeper into the surrounding neighborhood. It is expected to be completed by 2023.
Currently, the Opéra Bastille draws in thousands upon thousands of visitors per year. The new renovations will add 800 additional seats to the venue, which will allow significantly more foot traffic per day.
The Bastille district isn’t really in need of more traffic as it is. This is a buzzing neighborhood that is as alive by day as it is by night. Bars, restaurants and shopping facilities line the streets. And of course the historic Place de la Bastille in the central plaza.
There are many free guided walking tours that will give you a full idea of what Bastille is all about. As far as Parisian history goes, the Bastille certainly holds a good portion of it. I am looking forward to seeing the improvements to the opera space taking shape over the next few years.
Europa City in Paris
Just north of downtown Paris something quite large is taking place. Since 2016, a gigantic mixed-use project has been underway and is being called Europa City.
A Dutch architecture firm is heading the project and are the same individuals behind the Google headquarters in California — so you can only imagine the scale of this project to come.
The initial goal is for a space rich with houses, shopping facilities and entertainment including bars and restaurants. Due to its scale, Europa City will also have its own transportation system once inside.
It is hoped that the project will open its doors in 2024, though the official date is yet to be confirmed.
The location of Europa City is situated in a suburb called Triangle de Gonesse. This is still a largely space and underdeveloped part of the city; rich with open space and farmlands.
The project aims to bring together urban Paris and the barren landscape that many parts of Paris still embody. A ski slope and a golf course are also included in the land plan.
A lot of the end game for this project revolves around potentially decreasing congestion in the central parts of Paris. People will be encouraged to spread out, and Europa City will be somewhere for them to head to instead of crowing the main squares in town.
Fabulous as they are, the first few arrondissements of Paris are notoriously crowded especially during peak season. Everyone looking to get their glimpse of the Eiffel Tower or dine at the street side cafe’s with a glass of Parisian wine.
Developments such as Europa City add a new attraction to the mix and will drive further urban development into the up and coming neighborhood.
It also gives the city dwellers the opportunity to live in a more “country living” environment. The housing will be significantly different to much of the existing Parisian housing around the city, and create a more farm-life space for people to enjoy.
Keep an eye out for this development, it’s likely to be the talk of the town in the next few years.
Clamart Stadium Olympic Project in Paris
As mentioned, 2024 will see Paris as the official hosts of the Olympic Games. In preparation many venues around Paris are looking to undergo changes and improvements in a bid to become an approved premises to be used in the games.
One of these locations is the already in production Clamart Stadium near the Meudon Forest in the south-west suburbs of Paris. The development team maintains that the stadium will be completed just in time for the start of the games.
In attempt to make the stadium stand out as a worthy participant in the running for the venue list; the contractors have had the genius idea to cover the stadium in live foliage.
Because the stadium site is directly before the Meudon Forest, covering the walls with greenery makes a lot of sense. For the spaces that cant be covered, they will build the walls out of glass and mirrors, creating a reflective effect for the forest behind.
The rooftop of the stadium is also expected to be covered in plants, with gaps for skylights that will feed natural light into the stadium space. The car park facility will be build under ground, so that there is no visual distraction in any immediate vicinity of the stadium.
Vertical Village in Paris
A new project in Paris that I will definitely be keeping my eye on is the up and coming Vertical Village that will be set up in the suburb of Rosny-sous-Bois.
It will be another mixed-use space and the brain child collaboration of one Japanese architect and two French ones. As the name suggests, the trio will be creating a village that moves vertically toward the sky instead of horizontally on floor level.
17 uneven floors will make up this architectural wonder. If the design plans are anything to go by then we are in for a real treat visually.
The majority of the village will be made from timber; only the core and lower levels will be made out of concrete to keep the entire thing up in the wind. The village will also separate towards the middle and be reconnected by a very light bridge, as the white timber columns all gel together in a mountain peak-like way.
The seemingly open platforms of the village will also be filled with plant life in order to create a vertical forest of sorts.
The intended use of the building will be predominantly office and apartment spaces on the lower floors. The rooftops will boast food courts, daycare facilities, bars and commercial entertainment areas. The view over Paris is going to be an attraction in itself.
This project is just another in the greater plan for the city of Paris to bing urban development to the more rural districts. Similar to the Europa City project, something that will draw people away from the city centers and out into the wider lands more often.
It is still unclear as to when this project will commence and be completed.
Eiffel Tower Upgrade in Paris
With the clock ticking down toward the looming Olympic Games, many architectural teams are bidding for the opportunity to make improvements to the biggest icon in Paris; the Eiffel Tower.
Teams were asked to brainstorm and pitch ideas for improvements that could be implement in the next few years to make the attraction even more prominent than it already is.
Bidding teams are encouraged to come up with new ideas surrounding the lift access of the tower and to make improvements in the reception and workspaces located inside. Proposals are in and the winning team is expected to be announced very soon so that development can take place in time for the games.
As you can imagine this is a gargantuan task to take on. The beloved Eiffel Tower is such a dominant force within the Parisian world of attraction. Located right in the heart of Paris, the tower draws millions of visitors each year from around the world.
There is always room for improvement, and an upgrade to the legendary structure would be a welcome occurrence even if the city was not expecting an Olympic event in just a few years. Personally I’m open to anything that might see a reduction in the constant congestion that goes on underneath the tower.
The list goes on. Paris is growing and changing slowly but surely. Its safe to say that between now and 2024 we can expect to see an abundance of notable changes in the infrastructure of the city as the games draw nearer.
Change is as good as a holiday — as they say. Watch this space!