BIG Wins Europa City Development in Paris

Courtesy of BIG

Danish architecture firm, BIG - led by Bjarke Ingels – has been announced as the winner of an international invited competition for the design of Europa City,  a 800,000 square meter cultural, recreational and retail development in Triangle de Gonesse, .  Combining city development with an open landscape, creates a dynamic center of activity for visitors and residents, appealing to the variety of functions of city life.   is situated along the route from Charles de Gaule Airport to Paris and has a wide range of programs that is part of a larger initiative to attract international tourism into the northern parts of Paris.

More on the project after the break…

Courtesy of BIG

As seen in the renderings, the project appears as a massive earthwork.  Europa City promises plazas, artificial ski slopes, retail establishments and recreational areas that are hidden under an expansive topography of a landscape-covered roof.  The landscape is a lush and accessible green roof that undulates with the varying heights of the buildings below – which are dictated by local zoning laws – and includes penetrating slices into the levels below.

Courtesy of BIG

The renderings indicate an overlap of functions – layers that are stacked and split reveal a dynamic combination of open walkways, expansive green spaces, a golf course, an integrated transit system, and indoor retail space that are stepped back and open into plazas and walkways.  According to Bjarke Ingels, these walkways are designed to imitate the intimacy of Parisian streets and streetlife.  Visual intersections between all of these programs throughout the site make it both a space of relaxation and high excitement.

Courtesy of BIG

The boulevards throughout Europa City form a continuous loop around the the development.  Throughout this somewhat linear passage through the site are orchestrated moments of spontaneity that arise as the various elements – and the activities that these elements promote – are found along the way.

Courtesy of BIG

Not only does this indicate a creative approach to retail development that integrates the surrounding neighborhoods by providing leisure, it also addresses a concern for the delicate balance of developing density and open space.  Europa City appears to find that balance.  While compiling a diverse program over a large expanse of land – a proposed 80 hectares – it also successfully provides for the need to retain a open space.  What better way than transforming what could have been up tens of thousands of square meters of roof into a landscape that reintroduces vegetation and trees and incorporates functions within these spaces that attract visitors?

Watch the video below to hear Bjarke Ingels describe Europa City:

Other entrants to the competition include Manuelle Gautrand, Snohetta, and Valode & Pistre.  See their designs at  

Design: Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG)
Location: Paris, France
Project: EUR - Europa City
Project Type: Invited Competition
Collaborators: Tess, Transsolar, Base, Transitec, Michel Forgue
Partner in Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Andreas Klok Pedersen
Project Leader: Joao Albuquerque, Gabrielle Nadeau
Team: Maren Allen, David Tao, Salvador Palanca, Marcos Bano, Lucian Racovitan, Ryohei Koike, Camille Crépin, Elisa, Wienecke, Léna Rigal, Tiina Liisa Juuti, Jeff Mikolajewski
Client: Groupe Auchan
Size: 800 000 m2; 80 hectares


Cite: Vinnitskaya, Irina. "BIG Wins Europa City Development in Paris" 15 Apr 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • xico mendes
    • Patrick H

      At least they stuck the parking underground on this one :)

      Seriously though, how can they claim to be creating a “lively, urban experience” in a place with NO RESIDENCES? The whole development will be abandoned at night, like a giant shopping mall. Crime will be a problem. Have we learned nothing from 30,000 years of building cities (and 70 years of suburbs)?

      But I guess a shopping mall with underground parking and a green roof is better than a “typical” shopping mall, if only incrementally.

      • Jonnel Mamauag

        ha! so true – it’s only truly a “lively urban experience” because of the inhabitants of those “intimate spaces”, security and safety would be a paramount issue for me as well. they should have considered the idea of mix-used volumes; apartments and what not, that can access the green roof lanscapes.

        good proposal though ..

      • Tyler

        I foresee this ending up like the “new south china mall”….

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  • Katsudon

    I usually don’t like this game, but seeing the article thumbnail I though it would open on this project…
    I don’t want to know if anyone copied the other, because I believe both projects have their own reasons to be, but what strikes me is the similarity of the pictures…

  • alh

    urbanism by BIG = just a upscaled building. but that’s not urbanism
    poor proposal

  • Riadh Mell

    Tout à fait d’accord avec vous, un projet toujours avec les mêmes erreurs d’urbanisme! qui encaisse ?!

  • Paul Downton

    I hope they give due credit to Hundertwasser.

  • GG
  • splash

    “man made ecosystem”… is he talking seriously?

  • Shabi

    Please Paris, don’t do this. Let leisure develope inside charming cities instead of this. This building will pull all urban life out of it’s surroundings. Furthermore it will be dramatically dead after closing hours. Maybe they will close it at night, but that is not my idea of sustainable urbanism. If I have the choice I would prefer going to a spa at a roof of an old nice inner city building instead of going to this this poor proposal. The context must be charming, diverse and suprising and not be monotone like this architectural monster. This will become a truly dead mall. Maybe only a hype for 10 years. For me this is another example of an ‘autistic’ (thinking only about itself) concept of BIG. They don’t have a critical view to social, economic and spatial tendencies.

  • freedom baek

    very ambitious project
    but once this gigantic city is completely developed it will have numeral capabilities
    such as giving out more jobs, expanding tourist attractions, and one step towards future urbanism
    i am sure that criminal issues will be safely regulated with our high-tech security devices.
    although i usually pay more attention to those apartments for low-income families such as singapore skyterrace or butaro doctor’s housing in Rwanda
    you ought to have this type of expansive project once in a while.

  • Judy Zhang

    It is the typical design style of BIG.The rational thinking always based on sites,using pulling,pushing,pressing ,cutting and so on.I like this kind of thinking way.

  • Sameer Chadha

    A city has a mix of uses, including residential, has context and thoroughfares, is built incrementally, has diverse ownership of varying financial sizes, and allows itself to grow organically like an organism. This proposal is at best like the utopian megastructures of paolo soleri or archigram, where the idea of it being a large but finite physical and financial entity, owned by one person built at once renders it a theoretical or thematic exercise. And let’s not call it a city.

  • Sameer Chadha

    Nice mall though

  • Vic Stapel

    Yes where are HOMES that bring in LIFE? Welcome to the flat “HLM” if you know Paris you’ll know what the 70s HLM are. Palm trees on top just shows how realistic they were in creating this. This is not the Orangeries or the Riviera. Who greased who’s hand again to get this project win? But then yes we know who wants to live there not those who have money and those who may want to live there will turn it all into the well known rundown Paris “Banlieu” that every one who wants to stay SAFE is avoiding!

  • Ak nous

    Can’t understand if BIG’s designs are serious or just trolling…

    Maybe, they try how far it can get…