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The most controversial construction projects underway in Paris

In the coming years, Paris’ ambitious modernist architecture is going to rub up against its existing Haussmannian heritage, to the chagrin of the nostalgiacs and the delight of the modernists. Here are the four provoking the most fervent debate.

The Triangle Tower

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© Herzog & de Meuron

This 180-m tall skyscraper in the form of a pyramid was first presented in 2008 by then-mayor Bertrand Delanoe and developers Unibail-Rodamco. It is planned for the expo centre grounds by Porte de Versailles in the 15th arrondissement, and will house 90,000 m2 of offices, hotels, restaurants, commercial space as well as a health centre, nursery and conference centre.

It faces opposition from environmental activists for its lack of energy-efficiency, as well as local opposition in the form of the L’association de defense du patrimoine Monts 14, who have accused it of “destroying the landscape” of Paris. Construction is on hold until the matter is settled for good, with Monts 14 currently preparing to file a motion to have the development cancelled and reassessed.


Image result for europacity

This development is anathema to environmental activists. Building on currently green pastures? Check. Backed by billion-dollar multi-national corporations? Check. Estimated to put local commerce at risk? Check.

The 3-billion euro project is a collaboration between Chinese giant Wanda and French supermarket behemoth Auchan. Eighty hectars of commercial space, amusement parks, a waterpark, restaurants, hotels, indoor ski slopes and the works. It lies in between CDG airport and Paris, providing a go-between the two. It will also form part of the Greater Paris express network.

Activists and locals together have managed to stall the project, and have the backing of several prominent National Assembly members. A public inquiry found much of their gripes were justified although the project has been given the go-ahead.

The plateau de Saclay

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© Sensual City Studio

The suburb of Saclay is France’s host venue for its candidature for the International Exposition of 2025. A ‘global village’ is to be built covering 110 hectars in the middle of which will lie a 169m-diametre sphere. It is in this that the major expos will be featured.

Despite the winner still being 99% chosen, opposition to the development has been fervent. Urgency Saclay is an association campaigning to protect the pastures which would be built over, and there are worries that the event will wreak havoc with traffic levels in the region.

The host country will be chosen in November next year and opponents are preparing themselves for a showdown with authorities. It’s one thing to cancel a development, but a whole other to cancel one which is to be the site of tens of millions of people from around the world.

Bercy-Charenton Towers

Image result for Bercy-Charenton Tours

As part of the renovation of an area in dire need of one, the Bercy-Charenton towers in the 12th arrondissement will number five and reach 50m each. Alongside them will be numerous towers of offices, hotels, commercial spaces, schools, gyms, nurseries and walkways. Anyone who has been there will testify to the horrific wasted space that part of Paris currently is.

Despite there being nothing to protect – it is nothing but train tracks, vast unused space and existing commercial centres – Les amis de Bercy Charenton (friends of Bercy Charenton) accuse the mayor of wanting to ‘dilute’ them by creating a new town of 4000 people. A sports centre will be sacrificed for the developments, in their defense.

Being so close to the centre, this development has numerous groups lining up to defy the Mayor’s plans. The first stages of construction are scheduled for late 2019 and they will surely fight tooth and nail to prevent it.

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