Planning a People-Centered Renaissance for La Defense

Since it was begun in the late 1950's, Paris's La Defense business district 'has always worked better in architectural theory than in anthropological practice,' says Georgi Kantchev. A new plan seeks to humanize the spaces between its tall towers.

"Rather than the Parisian business hub its founders described, it often seems more like the isolated end of a spoke that has highlighted a crucial flaw in urban planning — a concern with making architectural statements — rather than an affinity for the people in and around the buildings," observes Kantchev.

"When non-French planning experts assess La Défense, they say it shares the same problems as the Canary Wharf complex in London, where developers have tried to supplant the City with Big Architecture and whose artificial origins may be hard to overcome. The experts look more favorably on the somewhat organic mix of business and residential of Lower Manhattan, which has evolved over the last century."

"The public agency that manages the complex has hired an architectural firm to draft a new master plan in hopes of making the grandiose vision for La Défense a livable reality."

Full Story: Plan Aims to Enliven Paris’s Financial District, Long Called Soulless

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