in Paris, we no longer demolish, we transform


The common point between the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul hospital, the garage on rue Lamarck, at the foot…

approximately 20,000 amendments tabled in the Assembly

approximately 20,000 amendments tabled in the Assembly

The common point between the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul hospital, the garage on rue Lamarck, at the foot of the Sacré-Coeur, and the SNCF unloading station in Paris 19e not immediately obvious. The time ? The materials ? The architect? Nothing of the sort. In reality, each of these places has lost its original purpose. Trains no longer run on the small belt; the children were asked to seek treatment elsewhere; as for Parisians, they no longer buy cars. However, none of these abandoned, disused buildings have been demolished. Better, we resuscitate them. The red brick TLM hangar is destined to become a center of the social and solidarity economy. The corridors of the Marcel-Lelong clinic, enhanced by four levels, will soon serve 134 apartments signed Lacaton and Vassal. When the garage, redesigned by the Data agency, brings together the obsessions of the moment – ​​offices, housing, gym, logistics space – minus the shared garden.

In Paris, we no longer demolish, we transform, keeps repeating Emmanuel Grégoire, the town planning assistant of the socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo. Destroying must remain the exception. If you look closely, the speech is closer to reality. This is documented by work carried out by the Pavillon de l’Arsenal, the Parisian center for town planning and architecture, which analyzed the some 1,200 to 1,500 work permits issued each year, since 2020, in the capital city. Three-quarters are transformation requests of the existing. Forty-four of these projects, the most emblematic, are on display until March 5 – “Conserve, Adapt, Transmit” –, and show this movement which, for several years, has been transforming the capital in depth by shaking up decades of way of doing things. These operations foreshadow the Paris of tomorrow. The first should be delivered very soon, the others by 2024, 2025.

This is not the first time that the Arsenal team has taken an interest in the transformation of buildings. Never, however, has the environmental question served as much as a spur, notes Alexandre Labasse, for whom this was the last exhibition since he has since left to direct the Parisian Urban Planning Workshop. Conserving emits less carbon, recalls the architect Guillaume Meunier, specialist in bioclimatic construction. One square meter built is 1.5 tonnes of CO2 issued for fifty years, half for the building, half for the use. Keeping what already exists therefore means reducing emissions by 750 kilograms. “All of these projects demolished less than 20% of the original building”explains Alexandre Labasse.

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