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BIG Wins Europa City Development in Paris

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, France.  Combining city development with an open landscape, Europa City creates a dynamic center of activity for visitors and residents, appealing to the variety of functions of city life.  Europa City 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
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
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
Courtesy of BIG

The boulevards throughout Europa City form a continuous loop around the the development.  It passes through six areas that have been themed as various regions of Europe.  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
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:Irina Vinnitskaya. "BIG Wins Europa City Development in Paris" 15 Apr 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>