The City of Paris is creating a large-scale, mixed-use development project in the seventeenth arrondissement of Paris, with the aim of becoming a model for sustainable communities. The goals are twofold: create a sustainable community that can be an engine for economic growth while preserving the city’s unique character, and integrate the prosperous inner city with socially challenged surrounding suburbs.
The project has a strong social equity component that aims to bring two distinct socioeconomic groups within a city together. Paris in particular has suffered from the gaps between its wealthy core and poorer outlying districts (or Banlieues) where the poverty rates are much higher than the national French average. The community will consist of 3,400 housing units with at least 50 percent dedicated to public housing, about 30 percent of units for sale, and 20 percent set aside for rent, with the hope of stimulating a diverse community.
In 2007, the first phase of the project was completed and a large park including sport facilities and children’s play areas opened to the public. Since the beginning there has been strong outreach from the local government with a permanent information house on site and strong focus on social media. Numerous events have been organised to engage the local residents with the development plan.
The community aims to be carbon neutral and includes many innovative elements, including the following:
- Buildings will be designed with a number of attributes so that they consume less than 50 KWH/m2 of primary energy annually (the average figure for the European buildings stock is 240 KWH/m2).
- Buildings will be equipped with photovoltaic cells that in total will produce 4,500 MWh annually.
- Effective public transportation, including two new Metro stations, an extension of the tramway, and a regional rail station will be implemented, ensuring that inhabitants and neighbouring areas have easy access to the business area of La Defense and the centre of Paris.
- Garbage and recyclables will be collected with a system of pneumatic tubes, sharply cutting emissions and odors.
By the numbers, the 133-acre project is impressive for any city: 12,700 projected jobs; 3,400 housing units, subsidized and market-rate; 1.5 million square feet of office space; 410,000 square feet of public facilities, including schools; 334,000 square feet of shops and services.
The project will also contribute to regional rebalancing of public housing to the West of Paris. The seventeenth district where the project is located has 10.4 percent of public housing, compared to the Parisian average of 15.6 percent.
In many urban areas around the world tensions have grown where the gap between rich and poor communities in the same cities has become too large. In Paris, the suburbs have experienced episodes of social unrest. Projects like Clichy-Batignolles, which focus on both environmental and socioeconomic aspects, could be a way of addressing these increased tensions.