La Défense, Paris’ major business district, is about to undergo a transformation with the help of Paris architecture firm AWP. AWP’s plan was presented to government agencies EPADESA and DEFACTO as well as local communities in November 2012, but will be released to the public for the first time in March. The proposed plan not only updates and adds to the current site: it rethinks and reevaluates what already exists. More on the plan after the break.
La Défense is filled with an assortment of business buildings and high-rises, including Grande Arche de la Défense Although this area already has many established buildings and offices, there is a need for a connection and integration between these spaces.
The “plan de renouveau,” the proposed regeneration strategy, has been ongoing since 2005. The plan addresses issues of public space, including the addition of green space, change of infrastructure, and the evolution of transportation and site. These advancements will reaffirm La Défense as the premier business district in Europe and will continue to be a hub of international corporates.
The first phase of the plan focuses on infrastructure and creating a stronger engagement with public space. Navigation around the site will be improved through renovated pavements and roads. Ideally, all of the key sites will be within a 5 minute walk of each other. Walking through La Défense will not be a challenge; rather, it will be enjoyable.
The second key factor in the plan is to appreciate and advance what the site already has to offer, which includes its impressive art collection and public buildings. La Défense’s location is key because it is part of the Ile-de-France region, which contains 13 million residents. This region also receives about 27 million tourists each year, meaning that La Défense could soon be a greater center for tourism, culture, economy, and the arts.
Lastly, the plan will focus on both short and long-term goals and how spaces can change over time. Spaces must be designed to not be restricted to one function but able to evolve. For example, the creation of a main, central plaza could eventually evolve into a major train station. Site growth will occur, and the plan needs to be flexible to accept these changes.
Although La Défense is currently a collection of disjointed buildings, it will soon gain direction through the creation of easily navigable paths and hybrid landscapes. AWP has already begun work on site creating gardens, follies, and a continuous ramped route to improve access to and through the site.