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Competition: Reinvent Paris 2

The mayor of Paris has launched an international contest seeking ‘open, vibrant and radiant’ proposals for a 150,000m² swathe of subterranean sites across the French capital (Deadline: 15 November)

The competition, part of the city’s ongoing Reinvent Paris initiative, invites teams of architects and developers to draw up transformative visions for 34 underground facilities including disused Metro stations, tunnels, car parks, garages and vaulted cellars.

The call for ideas comes three years after mayor Anne Hidalgo launched an earlier edition of contest, focusing on 23 above-ground sites throughout Paris. Winners included David Chipperfield and Sou Fujimoto.

Metro Croix Rouge

Metro Croix Rouge

Source: Image by Vincent Desjardins

Metro Croix Rouge

Commenting on the latest competition, Hidalgo said: ‘We are pleased to launch Reinvent Paris 2, which opens up new horizons. Indeed it welcomes partners wanting to renew their real-estate practices. And it illuminates an unsuspected world – that of the underground city – exposing the creativity of participating teams to unknown, unusual and remarkable spaces.

‘Each of them is invited to give free rein to an imagination that must be architectural as well as economic, cultural and social, in order to take up, in the most concrete way possible, the major challenges faced by metropolises. By this approach, we refuse a Paris vitrified by nostalgia or, conversely, drowned in a contemporary movement of standardisation. By opening the field of possibilities, articulating urban, ecological and democratic revolutions, we give shape to the city of tomorrow: open, open, open, vibrant and radiant.’

Spanning around 105m², Paris is home to around 2.3 million residents in its central area and hosts one of the world’s oldest and largest subway networks. The historic city is also renowned for its catacombs which hold the remains of more than six million people.

The latest project focuses on 34 city-owned subterranean sites spread throughout the capital. Disused Metro stations featured in the call for ideas include Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower in the 7th arrondissement, Croix-Rouge (pictured) in the 6th arrondissement and Saint-Martin on the boundary of the 3rd and 10th arrondissements.

Various car parks, garages and electrical substations are also included, along with a factory, institute and abattoir featuring large basements.

David Chipperfield Architects' competition-winning proposals to revamp the Immeuble Morland in Paris, part of the city's 'Reinvent Paris' urban regeneration initiative

David Chipperfield Architects’ competition-winning proposals to revamp the Immeuble Morland in Paris, part of the city’s Reinvent Paris urban regeneration initiative

Source: David Chipperfield Architects

David Chipperfield Architects’ competition-winning proposals to revamp the Immeuble Morland in Paris, part of the city’s Reinvent Paris urban regeneration initiative

In 2016, David Chipperfield and Sou Fujimoto were among the high-profile winners of an earlier series of linked design competitions aimed at reinvigorating 23 above-ground sites across Paris.

Chipperfield’s winning proposal for the Immeuble Morland office building will see the landmark structure, which backs on to the River Seine, extended and opened up to provide new housing, a youth hostel, hotel facilities, offices, retail outlets and a food market.

Other competition winners included DCG architects’ proposals to redevelop the former Masséna Station; Xtu Architects’ green plans for a 2,086m2 plot in the Rive Gauche Urban Development Zone; and proposals for infill homes on an existing estate by Nicolas Laisné* Associés and landscape architect Bassinet et Turquin.

Shortlisted teams in the Reinvent Paris 2 contest will be selected next year with the overall winners due to be announced in November 2018.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline to applications is 15 November

Contact details

Visit the competition website for more information

Brunel Museum Thames Tunnel case study: Q&A with Jerry Tate

The partner at Tate Harmer discusses lessons learned transforming a disused subterranean shaft into an events space for the Brunel Museum in London

Jerry Tate

Jerry Tate

Source: Image by Killian O’Sullivan

Jerry Tate

How did the Thames Tunnel project deliver a unique events space for the Brunel Museum in London?

The Sinking Shaft at the Thames Tunnel is an incredibly powerful raw space which is steeped in history. The last structure by Marc Brunel and the first by Isambard, it was used as a grand pedestrian entrance hall for its first 20 years, as well as a smoke vent shaft, target for the Luftwaffe and a switch gear room. All of this history is visible in the walls, and our key concern was to maintain the existing unique atmosphere of the space, while providing the absolute minimum to enable it to operate as a performance space, for the Brunel Museum and for Rotherhithe.

The Sinking Shaft at the Thames Tunnel by Tate Harmer

The Sinking Shaft at the Thames Tunnel by Tate Harmer

Source: Image by Jack Hobhouse

The Sinking Shaft at the Thames Tunnel by Tate Harmer

What architectural, material, structural and other methods did you harness in your design?

The nature of below-ground development, the overlap of statutory, existing complex services and the environmental conditions, mean that everything you do has to be incredibly robust and also very precise in terms of how it fits into the existing spatial environment. Our first move on the project was to commission a point cloud survey of the existing space so we could produce a precise computer model of the Sinking Shaft. While there was a certain amount of site preparation, the majority of our proposal was prefabricated and had been test-assembled before being installed on site. As we could only access the site through a single 1.4m x 2m hole in the shaft (which we had made) all of the prefabricated components had to fit through this opening, and in many ways the project was something of a ‘ship in a bottle’. In the end we spent three years preparing the scheme, and then only two weeks erecting the steel staircase which provided all the circulation, lighting, power and servicing.

The Sinking Shaft at the Thames Tunnel by Tate Harmer

The Sinking Shaft at the Thames Tunnel by Tate Harmer

Source: Image by Jack Hobhouse

The Sinking Shaft at the Thames Tunnel by Tate Harmer

What advice would you have to bidding teams on finding new uses for Paris’s many subterranean redevelopment sites?

To be completely honest we would advise being realistic in what you can achieve and get a wide range of consultant advice early on, especially structure, fire and flooding. It is very easy to propose things that seem very reasonable, but then find that the limitations on below-ground construction can render a scheme unviable – for example if you need a fire escape lift. My other piece of advice is to celebrate the nature of these below-ground spaces. It is often the raw power of a cave-like environment that gives it a unique atmosphere. This should be celebrated!

The Sinking Shaft at the Thames Tunnel by Tate Harmer

The Sinking Shaft at the Thames Tunnel by Tate Harmer

Source: Image by Jack Hobhouse

The Sinking Shaft at the Thames Tunnel by Tate Harmer

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