Keeping Paris’ Gare Du Nord moving

#114 [00:18:02] | 07.07.2015 | 0 comments
jean-michel wilmotte

Once infamously described as ‘the squalor pit of Europe’ by the managing director of John Lewis, plans have recently been revealed for a £1bn makeover of Europe’s busiest station, the Gare du Nord in Paris.

With some 700,000 passengers passing through each day, congestion has reached what the SNCF describes as ‘crisis point’, and renowned Parisian practice, Wilmotte & Associates, has been called to the rescue.

Michael Hammond, WAN’s Editor-in-Chief, spoke to Jean-Michel Wilmotte about his 8-year plan to transform the grubby grand-dame into ‘a happy entrance’ to Paris, and how, to him, the project is very much a ‘human’ one.

During the interview, almost inevitably, comparisons are drawn between the transformation of London’s St Pancras station and its once grotty environs into the glitzy, thriving, cosmopolitan new quarter of London we now see.

Jean-Michel explains to Michael how Wilmotte & Associates’ vision to create ‘an interesting new quarter for Paris’ in a similar way will be realised over the next eight years. (The process actually started last year with the SNCF’s ‘Plan Botox’ – a major 4-year ‘spring clean’ operation.)

The rise of Uber and other technology-driven changes in how we humans move about is another topic for discussion. Michael questions whether the plans for the Gare du Nord will be already be outdated by 2023?

And did you know the original station forecourt was deliberately designed to be woefully small and inadequate? Jean-Michel shares the story!

Michael also seeks out his views on Herzog & de Meuron’s proposed 42-storey Tour Triangle, set to be Paris’s first new skyscraper in over 40 years. Jean-Michel also hints at possible moves by various other architects to build a ‘fabulous new ring’ of landmark tall buildings at strategic points around the city’s inner ring-road, the Périphérique.

To hear more about Jean-Michel’s plans for the Gare du Nord’s 21st Century comeback and more, listen to the podcast now…

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