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The largest fanzone during the upcoming Paris Olympics will be an architectural marvel.
In the bustling heart of the French capital, amid the iconic landmarks that grace the Parc de la Villette, a vibrant transformation is underway in anticipation of the upcoming Olympic Games in 2024. As the event draws nearer, hundreds of thousands of eager visitors are expected to grace the sprawling 55 hectares of greenery in the north-eastern part of Paris, where a veritable “celebration zone” is set to spring to life.
Under the expert guidance of Sophie-Justine Lieber, the general manager of this expansive park, every available space will be meticulously harnessed to offer an array of free activities to the throngs of attendees. The Géode, the Cité des Sciences et de l’industrie, the Grande Halle, and the Philharmonic will serve as key waypoints for the teeming crowds, as they partake in sports initiations, demonstrations, tastings, meetings with athletes, and captivating shows that promise to dazzle.
At the core of this splendid spectacle lies Club France, ensconced within the Grande Halle, which will be transformed into a vast tricolor fan zone. Here, the heartbeat of the French teams will pulsate daily, as the nation’s sporting heroes parade proudly with their well-earned medals adorning their necks.
Nearby, a collection of twenty pavilions, specially designed for the Games, will spring up on the lawns adjoining the Grande Halle, specifically the Cercle Sud meadow and the Triangle meadow. These architectural marvels, known as “archi-folies,” will be crafted by students hailing from 20 national architecture and landscape schools. Each of these unique structures will house a distinct sporting federation, reflecting the essence of the respective discipline. As Sophie-Justine Lieber elucidates, “For horse-riding, for example, the students worked with straw,” highlighting the profound dialogue between architecture and sport that underpins this initiative.
Labelled as a Cultural Olympiad and generously funded by the French Ministry of Culture and La Villette, this universal mini exhibition will commence in May. Moreover, during the Games, sports initiations and demonstrations offered by each federation will captivate audiences. Importantly, the “archi-folies” are not destined for obscurity after the festivities. Instead, they are scheduled for disassembly in September, paving the way for their reuse by the federations and clubs.
While the Parc de la Villette is set to be bedecked in the patriotic colors of blue, white, and red during the Olympics, it will also extend a warm welcome to the rest of the world. This sprawling green haven will become the “park of nations,” a moniker bestowed upon it by Paris 2024, harmonizing seamlessly with La Villette’s long-standing commitment to openness and inclusivity.
Indeed, numerous national Olympic clubs from around the globe will establish their presence within the park, providing a unique platform to showcase their respective countries and cultures. Marie-Claire Redon, the Olympic and Paralympic Games project manager at La Villette, reveals that Canada, Brazil, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic have already confirmed their participation, with discussions ongoing with other nations. The negotiations are expected to conclude by year-end, determining the specific locations of these national clubs within the park.
From April onwards, eager fans will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Cultural Olympiad, featuring six captivating shows, notably at the Grande Halle. In June, the Freestyle festival dedicated to urban cultures will take on an Olympic hue, offering demonstrations, initiations, and more.
Sport’s vivacious spirit has already embraced the hallowed halls of the Philharmonic, where a “sound and visual experience” dedicated to Zinedine Zidane, the football icon, unfolds from early October to January 14. This unique exhibition promises spectators a “multidimensional” soccer match experience, enabling them to feel as if they are moving alongside the legendary player himself.