Olga Gubanova. Essay. Grand Paris Project. The presentation of Bertrand Lemoine. Saint Petersburg Design Week 2013

The essay of Olga Gubanova about Grand Paris Project, the presentation of Bertrand Lemoine, Director General of the Atelier International Grand Paris (AIGP), Saint Petersburg Design Week 2013

Part III
25 May 2013

High time”

Grand Paris Project”
the presentation of Bertrand Lemoine
Director General of
the Atelier International Grand Paris (AIGP)
in the Nevskaya Courtine of the St. Peter and Paul Fortress
with the collaboration of PRO ARTE Foundation for Culture and Arts

We had the privilege of meeting with Bertrand Lemoine in Saint Peterburg on 25 May 2013. Bertrand Lemoine, an engineer, architect, architectural historian, author, technical advisor, chief editor, manager and director of the multitude of projects, departments and institutions in the different aspects of his professional field, the frequent guest of architectural forums, biennale and seminars in Moscow, introduced to Saint Petersburg's public the highly modern French model of the sustainable existence of metropolises, the sole possible state of their being - development. Bertrand Lemoine tried to convey the latest social and philosophical ideas and the gleams of technological achievements, antipodes of chaos, despondency, inertness and desolation, companions and followers of mankind life and so far begotten by it organized systems.

Grand Paris, the pivot of Ile-de-France, is incredibly complicated tremendous and diverse creature possessing an international reputation.

It's profitable center - classical wealthy by it's attainments Paris with the multitude of cultural and architectural treasures, bedroom communities, office districts and suburbs - is the source of the half of the gross national product of France. It incorporates diverse sides of life and styles and levels of living. And it is surrounded by the layers of pictorial gardens, parks, forests and functioning rural and agricultural areas. The infrastructure of this intense region is mainly developed.

The modern structure of magnificent and complex Paris was begotten by the system and the evolution of crenellated battlements. The last wall of 1845 established the historical center of the city. The epoch of organized architectural planning began in 1920's-1930's. Since these times Paris has been splashing out of it's borders. In 1934 the new conception and the term of Paris region was defined. In 1965 was decided to create 5 new cities around Paris. The realization of this choice applied the ideas of the previously accepted plan of development. For the following years the metropolis has been enlarging. Intensive growth was substituted for extensive spacial growth. Utmost functional growing suburbs weren't able to find their identity while the center, old Paris, exceptionally attractive and saturated by cultural landmarks and the traces of history, remained the same.

The problems begotten by the natural evolutions of the urban reality and environment are those problems which modern Parisians through the interaction with organised by their will and efforts new public institution, Atelier International Grand Paris, have and it seems intend to solve.

It was decided to undertake actions regarding the next fields attracting particular attention of French and international parts of the team of architects, city planners, philosophers and the public.


The transport system of the large agglomeration is planed to be developed. The new system and the additional branches of public transport must interconnect all clusters of the metropolis, the economically successful districts and the economically challenged, especially important ones at the periphery, and provide them easy and fast access to the center.

This direction includes development and innovations: significant enlargement of the subway equipped by new automated trains, 72 new railway stations appropriate for the next integration with other kinds of transport and forthcoming it's new systems, 175 additional kilometres of the subway, the total length has to achieve the sizes about 80 to 110 kilometres from the north to the south and approximately 130 kilometres from the east to the west; expanded web of high-speed trains; trams; the separated lines for the movement of buses; the invention and the introduction of the symbiotic system of private, the privilege of remote regions, and public transport, promotion of the core element of this symbiosis, electric vehicles.


At the same time the regions of metropolis must be specified. This is, for example, already defined the mathematical and physical specialisation of researches on the south and the region for aerospace investigations on the north. New secondary centers surrounded by minor ones with own developed infrastructure have to be created.

Mentioned above actions, firstly, will allow to hasten and simplify the travelling for the citizens of Grand Paris and it's guests, secondly, they will increase the attractiveness of the remote regions and, consequently, decrease traffic. Finally, the new utterly contemporary and beautiful projects and completed buildings will become the sources of pride and the way of the discovery of personality and the next identity of those remote districts. They will improve social climate and strengthen social interaction and social connections. Among these projects, buildings changing the appearance and the status of particular remote districts can be quoted: France Ministry of Defense with origami-like roof, the project of Nicolas Michelin by ANMA on the south. Le Palais de Justice de Paris by Renzo Piano on the north-east of Paris. Le Project Triangle on the south by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Duo by Jean Nouvel on the east. Arena Stadium 92 on the west by Christian de Portzamparc. La Cite Du Cinema, it is a film studio complex supported by the film director and producer Luc Besson, designed in 2000 and located in Saint-Denis, on the north of Paris. It was open on 21 September 2012. Stade Jean Bouin by Rudy Ricciotti. Philharmonie de Paris by Ateliers Jean Nouvel. Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation designed by Frank Gehry and the Louis Vuitton Foundation.


An accommodation in Grand Paris is expensive and in modern Paris aren't enough apartment houses and living spaces. The rent is expensive as well. Having judged demography and migration it was decided to increase the amount of new flats from 35 000 per year to 70 000. At the same time the metropolis has to remain inside it's natural boarders, forests and agricultural zones. Paris has to cease it's extension.

It could be achieved by means of modern technologies, new technologies of building and the development of obvious and at the same time unordinary areas, for example, the building on the immersible areas. It is planned to renovate industrial zones, to reequip the first floors of buildings and storehouses, to reconstruct separate buildings. Often it supposes the full renovation and also the construction of additional storeys. The changes of the transport system could provide the opportunity to build commercially and economically attractive buildings and centers nearby city roads and to free potential areas for living by means of this.


The team declares ecological attitudes to human health and the natural environment. The Atelier International Grand Paris highlights the necessity to preserve the natural diversity of the region and it's natural resources, rivers, especially Seine, for the forthcoming sustainable development of Paris. The banks of Seine, it is nearby 200 kilometres from Paris to the English Channel and the possible direction of building, have to be secured from development. Grand Paris has to remain compact and be rebuilt inside itself. The green areas and the open spaces inside existing Paris must be saved. These green lungs of Paris will evolve and expand through the technologies of sustainable building. The buildings can become the continuations of parks and parks can be built on these buildings. Grand Paris can be the medium of the rethought and renewed conception of ecologically friendly, responsible and climate supporting hanging gardens with people living there.

The new buildings will use efficient systems of natural heating, ventilating and air conditioning, the systems of the rainwater collection and it's purification, generate renewable energy, especially solar and wind energy. The smart homes building will be enhanced. The attitudes to the changes of the conditions of insolation and views of residential areas nearby developing zones will be conscious. The city will create missing organs of it's organism and connected with them systems inside metropolis like inside an imaginary body, it will purify itself and produce energy like more or less perfect self-sufficient and definitely efficient system.


About 40% scientific researches in France have been accomplishing in Paris, there are located also a lot of internationally acclaimed universities and schools. These institutions must be supported. Their development, underlining their meaning and importance, the investment in education will directly influence on international status of the city and strengthen it. The multitude of international projects in the field of architecture, their scales, the strength of their architectural idea and the potential of insights will emphasize this international status of the city. These modern breakthrough are the long-term results of the developed systems of education.

The way of governing

The current fragmentary character of the regions inside the Grand Paris is supported by the way of their management. Ile-de-France unites 1282 communes and the decisions about new building can't be accepted without agreement of their direction. The authorities in the field of city planning could be delegated to the new integrated institutions. Possible agglomerations are already defined and the discussion of the adoption of the corresponding law is on the agenda in the French Parliament for the middle of this summer.

The long-term constructive goal and the dream imagined by the members and the guests of the Atelier International Grand Paris is the compact sustainable city, very coherent, quite independent balanced and comfortable for living there. Utopia.

Bertrand Lemoine, the French architect, Director General of the Atelier International Grand Paris, can produce rain by his beautiful streamy speech. And rain in many cultures can be interpreted like the greatest blessing. The last third of his performance in the St. Peter and Paul Fortress was accompanied by the sounds of sudden dense rain falling outside the red and white thick walls of the ancient fortress in the heart of Saint Petersburg. And it was raining when everything was said. On that day rain changed the palette of the city. May be this architect and enlightener will be able to organize and control the creation of utopia. After all it seems the blessing was granted.

original copyright © Olga Gubanova 2013
© Ольга Губанова 2013
воспроизведение текста эссе любым образом без письменного разрешения автора запрещается.

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