Three abandoned metro stations, two defunct underground nightclubs, a forgotten art nouveau shopping arcade, an old Renault garage, a disused water reservoir, and a post office– these are just a few of the 34 incredible hidden sites of Paris being presented as a creative canvas for potential designers, architects and urban planners as part of “Reinvent Paris 2”. The international competition to “rediscover the potential of Paris’s basements,” is open to all imaginative minds (and all ideas are welcome). Who knows? Perhaps it might be your wacky idea that could reinvent a piece Paris for tomorrow…
The ‘Reinvent Paris’ website has a page for each location with photographs and details about the site’s structure and previous use. Interested parties can request more precise information for the site or directly submit their initial ideas, which are then shared publicly on the site. Designers, architects, urban planners and developers are encouraged to build teams to submit their ideas on how to bring added vitality to these exceptional Parisian sites. The more robust and experienced your team is, will likely influence judges, although I wouldn’t rule out the little guys either.
As an international competition, non-French entries are also welcome (although the website English language version currently seems to have a glitch).
Entries will be judged on the following:
- innovative nature
- relevance to urban programming
- the architectural qualities of the project
- integration into its immediate environment
- the cost
- the realism and financial credibility of the proposal
- the environmental characteristics of the project
The winners will then be able to purchase or rent the sites in order to carry out their projects while simultaneously conducting an urban experiment on an unparalleled scale.
This concept of ‘have-a-go’ urban planning for the city’s underground spaces is not entirely new to Paris. In the run-up to the mayoral elections in 2014, candidate Nathalie Koziuscot-Morizet released fancy make-over proposals for Paris’ eight ghost metro stations as part of her campaign.
Her proposals for the neglected stations (pictured above), imagined by a Paris-based design firm, included swimming pools, nightclubs and theatres.
Nathalie lost the election and the plans never came to be. Anne Hidalgo however, did win the election and “Reinvent Paris 2” is in fact her second competition of its kind to be launched since coming into office. Season 1 of “Reinvent Paris” was launched in 2016, calling for environmentally friendly urban designs to transform 23 public spaces and unloved tower blocks. You can review the winners of that round here and many of them have already begun construction.
This year however, the competition is dedicated to the “basements of the capital”; the underground, hidden spaces typically underestimated as service, storage or maintenance areas. “Necessary for the operation of Paris, via transport networks, sewage and heating, parking garages or basements, they are often hidden and under-utilised. …We want to bring the verticality and depth to the mainland!” explains the deputy mayor, Jean-Louis Missika.
Not all of the sites are technically underground. Renault has agreed to participate in the competition by offering up one of its giant old garages– 5500 m² sitting unused in the centre of Paris just behind the Place de la Bastille.
Another impressive location is the water reservoir with views of the Eiffel Tower. One of the earliest ideas submitted suggests turning it into a swimming pool or a spa complex with a restaurant. For the proposed site of the old artist ateliers of the Beaux Arts, I particularly enjoyed one of the proposals for the space…
Hello, I am a city educator and tango dancer. I would imagine a permanent space for a Milonga (Argentine Tango Ball) with parquet flooring. It would be necessary that the venue does not disturb the neighbours and that it is accessible until late at night. (Tango dancers are night owls). –Marc Lelievre
Here’s a full list of links for the locations (scroll down the location’s page to find the submissions):
So if you’re feeling inspired to enter the competition, I’ll leave you with these parting words from our Parisian mayor, Anne Hidalgo:
I hope that each team deploys its creativity freely in order to imagine the projects they would like to see realized in the coming years. The teams will consist of original and unconventional groups in which all disciplines can be represented, reinventing our ways of living, working, exchanging and sharing in Paris.