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Competition: Fort de Villiers, Paris

An international ideas contest has been launched to transform the disused Fort de Villiers in Paris into a new sports and leisure complex (Deadline: 16 April)

Open to students and recent graduates from architecture schools in Europe and Switzerland, the competition seeks radical ideas to convert the abandoned 19th-century citadel into a new innovation, sport and cultural hub.

The Prix W call for ideas, backed by the Wilmotte Foundation, aims to promote discussion over the future of Fort de Villiers ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics which will be hosted in the city. Proposals for the Noisy-le-Grand site – next door to Ricardo Bofill’s iconic postmodern housing estates – may also integrate a sustainable housing element or hotel.

Fort de Villiers, Paris

Fort de Villiers, Paris

Fort de Villiers, Paris

According to the brief: ‘The Fort de Villiers of tomorrow will be resolutely turned towards the future in all its dimensions. You are invited to create a central meeting point, an authentic and innovative sport and cultural centre, becoming a true green lung for the city. This “Sport Factory” will also host festivals and temporary events.

‘Your proposal may include: co-working spaces, venues, congresses, seminars, sports, training and wellness rooms as well as workshops, catering, housing, etc. An event program related to the Olympic Games of 2024 can be considered, contributing to the influence of le Grand Paris.’

Noisy-le-Grand is a suburban settlement around 15 kilometres east of Paris well known for its large postmodern housing estates. The Fort de Villiers was constructed in the late nineteenth century as a defensive citadel and is today bordered by the busy A4 highway.

The 4ha contest site was formerly a barracks and later used as a shelter and reception area for local sporting associations. Today the building is owned by the local authority which is considering future uses for the abandoned structure.

Ricardo Bofill’s iconic postmodern housing estates in Noisy-le-Grand

Ricardo Bofill’s iconic postmodern housing estates in Noisy-le-Grand

Source: Image by Ville Noisy-le-Grand

Ricardo Bofill’s iconic postmodern housing estates in Noisy-le-Grand

The Wilmotte Foundation has hosted the Prix W for more than twelve years, providing students and newly graduated architects with opportunities to explore built environment heritage and contemporary design.

This year’s seeks ideas to re-landscape the complex and create a new space for walking, discovery and relaxation featuring sports facilities, play spaces, urban agriculture, allotments and a sculpture park.

Submissions should include three A1-sized boards along with an A4 summary, 500 word description and an optional 2 minute-long video. The overall winner, due to be announced 20 April, will receive €7,000 while a second prize of €5,000 and third prize of €2,000 will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 11:59 pm (BST) on 16 April

Contact details

Email: fondation@wilmotte.fr

View the competition website for more information

Xili Sports and Cultural Centre case study: Q&A with MVRDV

The Rotterdam-based practice discusses lessons learned creating a new sports complex in suburban Shenzhen

How did your project deliver a landmark sports and cultural centre for a residential area in Shenzhen?

Xili Sports and Cultural Centre is located in a residential area along the Dasha Green Corridor, which stretches from the Nanshan mountain park to the Yangtai mountain park. It is a mostly residential area with connections to surrounding nature so the intention here is to create a more human-scale model for sports that also become a cultural, social and engaging public space for people or all ages.

Shenzhen has boomed remarkably in the last decades. It is the fastest developing urban region in China, transforming from production to a more knowledge-driven economy but with this boom, monumental and large-scale project, particularly sports arenas dot its skyline. MVRDV’s design proposal introduces a more open, fun, human-scale and sustainable model that departs from populist Olympic-sized sports arenas. Exercise is still the main function here, but interaction within singular spaces gives way for more open zones, where different sports and social activities can occur.

Xili Sports and Cultural Centre by MVRDV

Xili Sports and Cultural Centre by MVRDV

Xili Sports and Cultural Centre by MVRDV

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

The centre is an urban interface that allows for flexible use during different time frames, crossing boundaries between sports and culture, whilst strengthening the community by encouraging locals and visitors to interact in these multifunctional spaces. The 105,000m2 centre consists of a 20,000m2 theatre-amphitheatre, 15,000m2 Basketball-Badminton arena, 10,000m2 multifunctional arena and 6,000m2 swimming pool, presenting a dynamic public space with multiple layers.

Xili Sports and Cultural Centre by MVRDV

Xili Sports and Cultural Centre by MVRDV

Xili Sports and Cultural Centre by MVRDV

During the day, in the evenings or at weekends, different groups of people with different needs, can also serve as a guideline for programming of the collective spaces. The signature element of the sports centres is an elevated running track that connects, runs through and weaves in and out of all volumes. It also invites people to go for an exciting run around the complex, relax and socialise both inside and outside.

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a sports and cultural centre for Paris’ Fort de Viliers?

For participants designing a sports and cultural centre for Paris’ Fort de Viliers, our advice would be to put the users at the centre of the design process, make it more human-scale and with a diversity of functions.

Xili Sports and Cultural Centre by MVRDV

Xili Sports and Cultural Centre by MVRDV

Xili Sports and Cultural Centre by MVRDV