My piece on Seine Rive Gauche, billed as the largest urban project in Paris since Haussmann, generated a great deal of interest. This week I return to the area to check up on progress, and find development continuing along the whole length of the site.
This project is mobilizing considerable resources and is calling on France’s best architecture and urban design talents. Whatever one things of the design choices, it certainly represents a return to the spirit of urban ambition that made Paris what it is.
For years, the urban agenda in Paris revolved around the preservation of the historical core, the expansion of the metropolis on its rural fringes, and the development of selected locations such as La Défense. But now the focus has shifted toward a more comprehensive development of the existing city, especially in the area outside the historical core, with a view to densifying the entire metropolitan footprint.
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.“