In order to redevelop the Montparnasse District in Paris, the deputy mayor Jean-Louis Missika of the Urban Planning department of Paris initiated a competition. The competition was won by a collaboration of Lina Ghotmeh Architects, Rogers Strike Harbour + Partners, and landscape architect Michel Desvigne.
The collaboration together proposed an “Urban Forest”, with 2000 different species of trees planted over an area of 10,000 m.sq surrounding the famous Montparnasse Tower. The surroundings of the tower consist of cultural and vocational institutions, changing the entire life around the tower. The tower holds significant importance in the district. The design reciprocates to that and is held at a pedestal and staged in the center. A dynamic life is visualized around the tower, transforming the life around it. The site is made public and accessible by adding roadways and networks for pedestrian movement and metro stations.
The proposal is such that it increases the movement around the district. The road and pedestrian networks bring the people to the tower as well as connect the residential neighbourhood to other parts of the city. The proposal aims at transforming the region into one of the busiest parts of the district, forming a new center in Paris.
The tower is kept at the centre with roadways, pedestrian ways, metro networks running across. These networks keep the tower open in the centre and make the spaces more accessible and public. This movement brings people in and out, adding more cultural activities at the heart of the space. This space is kept open for exhibitions, galleries, showcasing artworks along with the proposal of remodeling the district.
The nature of the existing neighborhood is introverted and an effort is made to make it more public yet give the neighborhood an introverted and isolated livelihood. This sense of private and isolated spaces are achieved through diverse urban fabric, plantations, and human-scaled spaces, and a mixed programme space.
A shopping center is proposed in the lower level with a plaza turning into a cafeteria, along with a metro station underground. These spaces allow more human interaction, keeping the space lively.
The main structure is made up of wood, which reduces the carbon emissions. This structure is such that it supports the plantations in the tower. These plantations make the tower ecological and sustainable. This structure has photovoltaic panels which help in reducing the energy consumption of the tower. In order to increase ventilation, tinted glass windows bring in the light and also block the sun. This gives a well lit interior space. These windows also become embankments for the plantations in the tower. These plantations continue for 58 floors in the balconies. This purifies the quality of the air, and brings pure air in the interior spaces. Due to Parisian Winds, seventy percent of the air ventilation takes place. The plantations in the plaza are such that they block the view, and also act as a curtain wall. These curtain walls provide security in the interior and the exterior of the spaces at the plaza level.
Along with being an open, interactive space, small pockets of plantations form isolated and private spots for the users. These pockets in between the wide plaza, give privacy to the users along with reducing the carbon footprint of the project. This greenscape has completely changed the current language of the site. The pathways, roads, covered with hardscape are now replaced with softscape and green plantation forming a sense of the forest. This forest aims on making the project sustainable and eco-friendly.
With the trees forming grooves and providing shaded spaces, it differentiates the residential and public plaza. This bifurcation of residential and institutional spaces is clearly defined with the plantations. These plantations on the hardscape cater as jogging treks, cycling paths, sitting spaces, also as pedestrian pathways.
These plantations make the proposal sustainable, by low-carbon pilot districts of Maine-Montparnasse District. The neighborhood is designed in such a way that it can be adaptive to climate change, management of heat and cold winds, the addition of bioclimatic design, recycled building materials and structures, and on-site economy. Along with this a wide range of discussions with the stakeholders also helped in evolving the programme of the project.