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Massive renovation of Gare du Nord: Five things you need to know

Gare du Nord, Paris’ first transportation station, will be completely remodeled and tripled in size by the 2024 Olympic Games. The 600 million euro project will be led by Ceetrus, Valode & Pistre, and Eiffage Construction.

On July 9th, 2018, SNCF announced the opening of exclusive negotiations with a consortium led by Ceetrus, the real estate company of the Auchan group, and involving Valode & Pistre, as well as Eiffage Construction, to remodel Gare du Nord in Paris. The project plans to triple the size of the 19th century building before the 2024 Olympic Games: it will increase from 36,000 to 110,000 m², explained Patrick Ropert, the general manager of Gares & Connexions, the SNCF branch responsible for station operations. The project, estimated at €600 million, is expected to be completed in June 2023, well before the opening of the 2024 Olympic Games in the capital.

Europe’s busiest railway station, with more than 700,000 passengers every day, not including those using the metro, Gare du Nord must accommodate more than 800,000 in 2024, and 900,000 in 2030, according to SNCF projections.

 

Discover the “pitch” for the project: 

 

Who was in the running for the contract?

The consortium led by Ceetrus came out ahead of Altarea-Cogedim/Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes/Besix, and the Apsys/Willemotte & Associés Group.

 

What is the architectural concept?

“Bringing the station into the city, and the city into the station” is the project motto, designed by Valode & Piste, who plan to triple passenger spaces (from 36,000 to 110,000 m²).

To the right of the historic building, as a reinterpretation of the 19th century Parisian covered passages, Valode & Pistre envisions a large, bright, glass nave 300 metres long and 18 metres wide. “It is a glass gallery, a path of light, an indoor street that serves all railway, commercial and cultural activities,” explains Denis Valode. Arrival and departure passenger flows are differentiated as they are in airports with new footbridges crossing the tracks to access the different platforms for  departures and arrivals.

Levels 4 and 5 will be built with wood, entirely Breeam certified, while the roof will equipped with gardens (7700 m²) and solar panels (3200 m²). “The 19th century was the century of stations, the 20th century the century of airports. In the 21st century, there is a return to the station thanks to the TGV, but transformed into an urban center”, says the architect.

 

What new needs will be addressed?

As a station in the city, the new Gare du Nord aims to meet passengers’ needs in a number of ways:  “A separate new departure terminal, an extension of the Eurostar terminal to cope with the tightening of customs controls linked to Brexit, traffic areas increasing from 15,000 m² to more than 37,000 m², and reinforced accessibility with 55 elevators and 105 escalators in 2024, compared to 20 and 45 respectively today,” says Patrick Ropert (SNCF Gares & Connexions). Finally, the implementation of tailor-made digital solutions (free unlimited wifi, diffusion of apps like En Gare) will render the new station more technologically-friendly for passengers and workers alike.

 

What additional activities and services will be found in the station?

As a city within the station, the new Gare du Nord will also offer “new, sustainable, intelligent, and lively places, on par with any global player in the urban world, in other words, like a new district within the city”, says Vianney Mulliez, President of Ceetrus (ex-Immochan). The commercial space will increase from 10,000 m² today to 50,000 m² in 2024 offering shopping, cultural activities, sports areas, and even community services like nurseries.

The boutiques (40 brands that will promote French and Parisian culture) will occupy 37% of the surface area, restaurants will occupy 27%, and co-working areas will span 5,500 m².

On the cultural side, 2000 m² of space will be based on the European Academy of Culture project, designed by writer Olivier Guez, and will include an event room (1600 m²) and giant screens that will play host to a Biennale of Digital Arts.  The station’s roof garden will even offer sports areas: a 1-km running trail, a gym space, racket sport courts, basketball courts, and golf areas.

“The station/city link is crucial. In this project, the station’s integration into the arrondissement is carried out smoothly, taking into account the inhabitants who live there and are not just passing through,” stresses Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris. The Gare du Nord bus station (with stops for 12 lines and 7 night buses “Noctiliens“) will be reinvented as an “eco-station”, a good part of which will be reserved for cyclists, with the installation of a 1200-space bicycle parking lot.

 

What types of financing?

The project is being financed through a new type of public-private partnership: a single-operation semi-public company (“Semop”).

66% owned by Ceetrus and 34% by SNCF Gares & Connexions, this Semop has a dual mission: first, to carry out infrastructure works and create new business areas, and second, to market and manage business, restaurant, and commercial areas.

The signing of this “joint venture” contract is expected to cover a period of 35 to 46 years.

 

Technical Data Sheet:

Contracting authority: Ceetrus and SNCF Gares & Connexion

Technical AMO: ARC

Prime contractor: Valode & Pistre, with the SNCF architecture workshop Gares & Connexions

BET structure: VP Green

BET design: VP Design

Infrastructure: Artelia

Digitalization: One Point

Lights: Yann Kersalé

Landscape designer: Michel Desvigne

Companies: Eiffage Construction, Bouygues Energies Services

 

Discover the main dates in history of past transformations of Gare du Nord:

 

 

Photo Credit: DAVID ILIFF, The interior of Gare du Nord taken from the balcony level in Paris, France. Wikimedia Commons.

Original Article by Le Moniteur, Gare du Nord : les cinq choses à savoir sur la transformation colossale qui se prépare

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