TVK transforms Place de la République
into Paris' largest pedestrian square

| 19 comments
 

French studio TVK has overhauled the Place de la République in Paris to create an even larger pedestrian plaza that includes a new cafe pavilion, water features and over 150 trees (+ slideshow).

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

TVK's largest intervention was to adapt the surrounding road layout to make more pedestrian-priority areas. This increased the size of the square to 280 metres wide by 120 metres long, making it the largest pedestrian space in the city.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

"The redevelopment of the Place de la République is based on the concept of an open space with multiple urban uses," said the architects.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

"The elimination of the traffic circle frees the site from the dominating constraint of motor vehicle traffic. The creation of the concourse marks the return of calm in an airy, uncluttered two hectare space," they added.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

The new cafe has been added to the south-west side of the square. Named Monde & Médias Pavilion, which translates as World and Media Pavilion, it was designed to host different public activities.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

All four sides of the building are glazed to allow views through. A solid canopy cantilevers from one side to create a sheltered seating area and its underside is clad with reflective aluminium.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

French studio NP2F Architectes designed the interior of the cafe, which features a fluted marble bar, wooden chairs and an assortment of plants.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

Three different kinds of concrete slabs were used to create the surface of the square and are interspersed with plane trees, honey locust trees and lighting columns.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

A circular water basin has been added around the nineteenth century statue at the centre of the square, while the a second water feature comprises a plane of water covering a small area outside the cafe.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

Photography is by Clement Guillaume.

Here's a project description from the designers:


Monde & Medias Pavilion and Place de la République, Paris

TVK hand over the redevelopment of the Place de la République, inaugurated by the mayor of Paris on June 2013.

Due to its exceptional size (120m by nearly 300m), its symbolic dimension as a representative public statement and its location in the city, the Place de la République occupies a special place in the international hub that is Paris.

The redevelopment of the Place de la République is based on the concept of an open space with multiple urban uses. The elimination of the traffic circle frees the site from the dominating constraint of motor vehicle traffic. The creation of the concourse marks the return of calm in an airy, uncluttered two hectare space. The new square, now skirted by motor traffic, creates a large-scale landscape and becomes an urban resource, available and adaptable for different uses. Clear connections with the large boulevards promote a new balance centred on soft transport for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

The statue of Marianne, the reflective pool, the pavilion and the rows of the trees form a strong axis. This harmony is amplified by the serene balance of the mineral element and a very gentle slope of 1%. All these elements contribute to both the interpretation of unitary materials in a perennial and contemporary manner and multiple explorations (colours, water, lights) creating different urban ambiances. The Place de la République is now the largest pedestrian square in Paris.

The south-west part of the square houses a 162 m² pavilion, a unique building, glazed throughout to retain a continuous impression of this singular space. The pavilion was conceived and designed by TVK Architectes Urbanistes. It's interior layout has been designed by NP2F architectes.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

The articulation of public and pedestrian areas

Abandoning the traffic circle model

The redevelopment of the Place de la République is based on a decision to create the largest possible public pedestrian area. Paris was in need of an exceptionally large and versatile public place, like an open field in the heart of the city, a feature found in many other large cities. Also, it was essential to move away from the traffic circle model.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

Functional & environmental dissymmetry

Two-fold dissymmetry, both functional and environmental, is used along the long axis of the square to blend it into the general urban setting.

Motor traffic has been reorganised. It now runs along the southern edge and two smaller sides of the square only. Now that the traffic runs in both directions and the pavements have been widened, the road is much more similar to the large Parisian boulevards.

Unity and balance

The Place de la République is also open to varied groups participating in a very wide range of activities. The aim of the project was to cater for these users by changing the balance between the roadway and the concourse. The most important challenge was to reunify and harmonise the attributes of a city with those of a local neighbourhood.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

The pavilion's design

In line with the principles adopted in the redevelopment of the Place de la République, the "Monde & Médias" Pavilion is a perennial building, designed to last. It is scalable and adaptable, but also is a strong presence, opening onto the square. It is the only edifice in the new square. The Pavilion is sited on the southwest part, in line with the reflective pool and the statue de la Republique. It is fully glazed so as not to obscure the view and provides a continuous vista of the square. The pavilion houses a "World & Media" themed café and its entirely modular interior can host a wide variety of festive, social and cultural events and uses in all seasons and all weathers.

The pavilion is assertively simple in design, comprising a closed volume, 9.29m by 18.20m and 3m high, and a 0.75m-thick roof with an 8.70m cantilever.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

The pavilion’s envelope is entirely glazed. The visual impact of its structural assembly is minimal, so as not to perturb the prismatic appearance of the overall volume: the metallic elements are integrated to a maximum and the opening zones are concentrated to create an image of large glazed planes jointed together.

The supporting structure also participates in this self-effacement to achieve transparency: reduced to four small-diameter metallic posts at the corners, it is similar in design to the metallic elements. The roof band is composed of aluminium sheeting whose assemblage is invisible, with its horizontal and vertical aluminium rigidifying elements following the same rhythm as that of the glazed panels.

The cantilever's underside is clad with large sheets of perforated aluminium. Echoing the large symmetrical composition of the Place de la République, the space’s interior organisation is dictated by a partition dividing it lengthways into two distinct and symmetrical areas.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK

Composition of the area and surface

The surface

The surface consists of paving slabs of different colours and sizes. The shady areas of the square are paved mostly in darker colours, while the open areas are generally paler.

The choice of prefabricated concrete ensures good performance in all weather, offering maximum resistance to the greatest variety of uses. This material also enables the use of monochrome colours, creating continuity with the surrounding surfaces of roads and roofs.

Three types of concrete paving slabs have been used in the square, reflecting its overall layout:
- "large module" prefabricated slabs in the centre of the concourse, to give a wide perspective and cater for large-scale uses,
- "medium module" prefabricated slabs for the rest of the esplanade along the concourse,
- and lastly, "small module" prefabricated slabs (on a more ordinary scale) for the north and south pavements. The bus lane to the north of the square is made of poured concrete.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK
Before and after photographs

Levels

The density of the networks present under the Place de la République mean it also serves as a "roof": the site is home to five Metro lines, sewers, telecom tunnels, etc. The levels create a main movement of great simplicity, vital to the spatial comprehension of the square and an understanding of its vastness. The simple 1% incline of the central concourse reveals two wide terraces at the back of the esplanade, in keeping with the scale of the surrounding area. The terraces continue the concourse but are edged to the north with steps. Between these terraces, the ground drops consistently towards the two large palace buildings and the shared trafficked area (pedestrians, cycles, buses, taxis), providing continuity of traffic flow and excellent accessibility.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK
Design diagram

A large garden, a large concourse

The square is unified by the single grand compositional movement and the one inorganic surface treatment. This unity helps to indicate three distinct sections: the urban garden of over 2,000 m2, planted and organised into several sub-areas; the central concourse of almost 12,000 m2 and 35 metres wide with the statue de la Republique as the focal point; the continuity of all the boulevards, with the road system on three of its sides and the widened pavement (13 metres on the longer side to the south west, which is the busiest side).

The terraces on the Place de la République

At the rear end of the esplanade, two flat terraces are each marked by a single step on three of their sides, which conducive to sitting and socialising. The new tree planting establishes a specific ambiance. The terraces will be equipped with movable structures expressing day-to-day and local themes, and changing with the seasons (roundabout, toy library etc.).

The playground is now located on the east terrace.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK
Site section - click for larger image

Water

Water - in various forms and with a myriad of uses (climatic, social, recreational, aesthetic) - is a key feature of the central esplanade.

The monument basin

The statue de la Republique dominates the centre of the new pedestrian esplanade. The new base takes the form of a large circular basin, at the edge of which visitors can sit, walk, play, or examine the bas-reliefs.

During the summer months, it is filled with water, adding to the number of uses. The base also houses a new lighting system for the statue. Spotlights, sunk under the sheet of water, project moving reflections over the entire monument.

The reflecting pool

On the west concourse of the esplanade, facing the Monde & Médias Pavilion, the theme of water is repeated in a minimal, contemporary version. In summer, a fine sheet of water runs down the 1% slope, covering an area of more than 270m2 (23mx12m). Sprays are connected to this sheet of water. When switched off, they affect neither the topography nor the uses of the concourse, so are almost imperceptible.

Place de la République and Monde & Médias Pavilion by TVK
Cafe plan - click for larger image

Location: Place de la République Paris 3rd, 10th and 11th arrondissements
Client: City of Paris, highways Department (Direction de la Voierie et Déplacements)

Commissioned architects and urban planners: Trévelo & Viger-Kohler
Technical consultants: ATEC
Landscapers: AREAL + Martha Schwartz Partners
Traffic and movement consultants: CITEC
Fountain consultants: JML Consultants
Lighting design: AIK - Yann Kersale
Environmental consultants: Transsolar
Dialogue and consulting: Ville Ouverte

  • Lozza

    Such a great place to be! But we have to steal chairs and tables (the red ones, not pictured here) from each other all the time! Bring a little more, people love the space!

  • born and raised Parisian

    This is utter b*****ks (excuse my French!) and a complete disaster. A perfect example of that Disney meets bobo vision of Paris that Mayor Delanoe has been inflicting on us for the last 13 years and has pitifully failed. Thank God the elections are coming in March and we won’t miss him.

    • pipe

      Sorry, but why exactly? Seems an extraordinarily popular outcome. What would you have preferred?

      Personally, I find the scale of open space and amount or number of amenities offered to be out of sync and the detailing of the cafe to be extremely poor but otherwise, where’s the disaster?

      • Born and raised Parisian

        Hi Pipe you have to live in Paris to understand the disaster, la Place de la République was perfectly fine, may be it needed a few improvements, but nothing to justify spending millions of euros of taxpayers money. Delanoe had to give tokens to the Greens so they would continue to support him, because Delanoe did not get the majority of votes (the mayor’s election is not a direct election, each Paris’ arrondissement’s got its own mayor with its mini government, and these people elect the mayor of Paris) so Delanoe badly needed the Greens’ votes to be Mayor of Paris, and Place de la République was one the the tokens he had to give them to please them. Place de la République is just one of the many things that Delanoe has inflicted on us for the last 13 years just for political reasons not for the good of Parisians.

  • Etienne

    Born and raised Parisian, your comments seem just to be strongly political, and here we discuss the architecture. Place de la République is a great and successful project. The continuous frequentation of the place by parisians (like me), is a good evidence of it.

    • Rem

      I have to agree with Etienne; as a project it is great. And la Place de la République was far from perfectly fine, it was a glorified roundabout. I like the new one.

      The political agenda behind it is another story, but Delanoë’s protégée is very likely to be the next mayor of Paris. You might have to suffer his spirit for a few more years.

  • Emmanuel Chaussade

    It’s a horror! No talent and no idea in this project. I put a thumbs down!

  • amsam

    Wow, it’s hard to imagine how much you’d have to hate a politician to make you see this gorgeous renovation as a failure. That’s quite a set of goggles!

    • PimPamPoum

      ‘This gorgeous renovation’ – `you must be joking, have you been there? It’s already ruined.

      As far as the design of the Place is concerned, it is not working at all. Cars’ circulation is limited to the south of the Place.. This is creating gigantic traffic jams all the way up from Gare du Nord. We all know the consequences of traffic jams: pollution, slowdown of the economy. I kindly remind you that there are 5.5 million unemployed in France. This kind of project is really not helping.

      • amsam

        You’re right PimPam, everybody knows that unemployment is pedestrian plazas. The last time I was in Paris was a year and a half ago, and back then the whole plaza had been shut down for construction for some time. If traffic patterns still haven’t sorted themselves out, I don’t know what it says about Parisians and their capacity for change.

  • jul51

    It’s a great place with good vibes. I live in Paris and this place is huge and lets things happen. Kids play with the fountains on their bikes and old dudes sit on the benches watching the skaters doing tricks.

    There is no such open space in Paris without tourists. Who cares about Delanoe and cars? Take the metro, Republique is well distributed.

    • pimpampoum

      Yeah right, perfect for your bobo lifestyle! Paris has been converted into a Disneylike town by Delanoe and his clique of supporters, fine, but life is not just watching kids play with the fountains (not sure what this dude actually means), and ‘skaters doing tricks’, you got to work sometimes.

  • IVG

    I haven’t been to the plaza, but if it’s full of people and activities, it’s a great achievement for the city.
    People > Cars

    • pimpampoum

      If you haven’t been to the plaza then how come you say it’s a great achievement? I don’t get it, on any given day there’s a solid 5km long traffic jam from the Périphérique at Porte de Cligancourt, to the entire boulevard Ornano, then boulevard Barbes, then boulevard Magenta and finally onto Place de la République that’s creating a hell lot of pollution.

      • amsam

        Take the métro or ride a bike.

      • IVG

        I went yesterday, and yes, I still think it’s a great achievement. Cities are for people not cars. And BTW, Paris has a good metro system, so it’s not necessary to use vehicles.

  • Machin

    Although I have not yet been there, the new Place seems awfully familiar to me. It seems to have many of the elements of the Place Colbert in Rochefort; notably derivative is the design of the café pavilion. It has been a positive feature in Rochefort for many years, let’s hope the same for Paris.

    The tone of the political vitriol is also sadly familiar. Why can’t people just calm down and enjoy life?

  • stefan

    Sadly, the project is very badly detailed and even worst, badly built. TVK is a very new studio and you can see in their work that they lack experience.
    The worst part about the project is the cafe, one of the most dull pieces of architecture built in Paris in the last ten years.

    sorry, the concept was nice, but the final outcome is terrible and will wear horrible over the years. no problem, there are lots of public money to spend and repair it.

  • CuJo YYC

    I stayed there in 1975, Hotel Bruxelles, and I clearly recall what seemed like permanent bumper cars just west of the monument, east of our hotel. Alas, I can’t find any photo evidence and I KNOW my memory isn’t failing. Perhaps someone on this forum might have photos of this old attraction and could share.

    BTW, bumper cars are the best and safest way to drink and drive. We were crazy teens from Canada having good, clean fun in Paris.

    C’est ça. https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2754/4218619531_6d7ae896a7_z.jpg