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Photo: Jacques Ferrier Chartier-Dalix Architectes / image SPLANN
The new metropolitan landscape. This is what Paris beltway may look like in 2030. The ring road will be crossed by a bridge and roof top gardens will be open to the public. Photo: Jacques Ferrier Chartier-Dalix Architectes / image SPLANN

Paris New Revolution

Turning grey into green

Paris New Revolution

Paris has a grey belt. The ringroad, Boulevard Périphérique, literally forms a concrete circle around the city. Now, initiatives are taken to transform the grey ring into something green. Inspiration can be taken from around the globe where highways have been successfully removed.

With over 1 million cars a day, the 35 kilometres of the Boulevard Périphérique are one of the busiest in Europe. Since its inauguration in 1973, the Périphérique – composed of up to six lanes – has been a concrete belt around Paris, dividing the the city and its suburbs.

The public agency in charge of urban studies, Parisien d’Urbanisme, qualifies almost the whole Périphérique as a “challenge for urban integration”. As an example, the value of properties drops by half, from €6,300 per square meter in Paris city to €3,800 per square meter in the surrounding areas.

In 2016 the first institutional attempt to move Paris beyond its boundaries, beyond the Périphérique, was launched. The project – Métropole du Grand Paris – aims to deliver a more integrated development to Paris and its suburbs, by creating a new metropolitan governance.

A call for innovative urban projects, “Reinventing Paris”, has given talents from around the world the opportunity to build the Paris of tomorrow. A total of 372 projects have been submitted to the City of Paris for 23 different sites. One of the winning contributions consists of a new building that will be placed over the Périphérique, in the heart of the Porte Maillot sector, a strategic part of Greater Paris.

Photo: Jacques Ferrier Chartier-Dalix Architectes
Paris future silhouette at Ternes. Roof top gardens will be part of the new city landscape. Photo: Jacques Ferrier Chartier-Dalix Architectes

In an auto-obsessed era many freeway systems have been overbuilt all over the world. Decades later cities have realized that its actually healthier, greener, and safer without them. Here are three freeway removals, listed in Gizmodo, in cities that have become a success.

Embarcadero Freeway, San Francisco, USA

After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, a decision was made to tear down the damaged State Route 480 freeway. Today the restored area has miles of public space, walking and bike paths, and the freeway removal was one of the first showing the world that a project like this was not only possible but also a way to save money and increase the economy of the city. The reconstruction turned out to be cheaper than fixing the quake-damaged freeway and property values increased in the area.

Cheonggyecheon greenway in Seoul. Photo: Shutterstock
Cheonggyecheon greenway in Seoul. Photo: Shutterstock

Cheonggyecheon, Seoul, South Korea

As a way to boost economic prospects in a low-lying area which had become a slum, an elevated highway was built through Seoul in 1976. In 2003 work began to remove the old dirty highway from the city center, restoring the highway but also a lost creek that once used to run there. The new greenway is not only a new favorite place in the city. Birds, fish and other wild life have returned and the temperature has dropped by several degrees in the urban core.

Arganzuela footbridge in Rio Madrid. Photo: Shutterstock
Arganzuela footbridge in Rio Madrid. Photo: Shutterstock

Rio Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Up until the early 2000s, the two large spans of the M30-freeway used to take over the space of the banks of Madrid’s Manzanares River and the historic waterway was totally neglected. In 2011 the re-construction of the area was completed. By rerouting the traffic into tunnels, the river banks were completely redeveloped into a 300-acre recreational area. Studies show that residents who live close to the area access the park frequently and are becoming healthier.

Paris New Revolution

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