Envisioning a New Paris, In Theory At Least

The future of Paris has been laid out by ten teams of architects and planners. The ideas are broad, futuristic, and innovative, but few are likely to be realized.
June 11, 2009, 11am PDT | Nate Berg
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"In more than a year of discussions, there have been some spectacular ideas and drawings by 10 teams of famous architects, drawn by the president's invitation to reimagine Paris as a city integrated with its suburbs and responsible in its environmental footprint.

Antoine Grumbach imagines Paris stretching along the Seine to Le Havre and the sea. Roland Castro, whose team included a sociologist and a philosopher, proposed a 250-acre park circled by skyscrapers in La Courneuve, one of the grimmest of the poor Paris suburbs. Richard Rogers plans rooftop gardens and parks built above railway lines. Yves Lion sees Paris sprouting with fields and forests, with citizens able to cultivate their own vegetable patches, an unfortunate similarity to the necessities of Soviet cities."

The plans of the 10 teams are typically ambitious, but some are calling them too unrealistic. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who called for the submission of these "grand" plans has said he plans to push for some of the more practical elements explored in these plans.

The main problem, according to officials, is the 22-mile highway that rings the city and separates it from the suburbs. They want to blur the line and allow greater interaction between the city and the suburbs, both economically and environmentally.

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Published on Thursday, June 11, 2009 in The New York Times
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