The Rotterdam-based studio plans to "reintroduce the lost human scale" and give a new identity to the Vandamme Nord complex, part of the Ilôt Vandamme block designed by Pierre Dufau – the French architect best known for the Tour Europlaza tower in the city's La Défense district and for his work on the reconstruction of Amiens after the Second World War.
Bounded by Rue Mouchotte, Avenue du Maine and the rail tracks of Gare Montparnasse, the triangular Ilôt Vandamme was of the largest urban design projects in Paris at the time. Most of the site is taken up by a horizontal slab block, but the 30-storey Pullman Hotel rises up on one side.
MVRDV plans to renovate the shopping centre, offices, hotel, library and underground car park – which it describes as "an introverted and self-contained block" that "failed to adapt to the changing needs of an urban society". The firm also plans to add housing, a kindergarten and a conference centre, and improve pedestrian connections across the site.
"This project is a fantastic chance to insert a little bit of human scale into a megalomaniacal 1970s development in the very heart of Paris," explained Winy Maas, one of the three founders of MVRDV. "We will bring order to the complex building, making it accessible from all sides and intensifying its use through a higher density of programs."
The existing shopping centre facade will be replaced with an assortment of glazed boxes, varying in shape, size, colour and material. MVRDV believes this will help to break down the massing of the building.
Fitting in with the existing structural frame, these boxes will present all of the building's different uses, but are also designed to be flexible to suit a changing programme.
"On its facade the building will display all of the activities that are going on inside," said Maas. "For this we have developed a catalogue of facade-elements that are exchangeable, so that the entire ensemble can respond flexibly to changes in use over the coming years."
The retail offering will also be extended, with additional entrances created on Avenue du Maine to the east and Rue Mouchotte to the west.
Existing offices will be relocated into a six-storey block featuring planted roof terraces, while the Bibliothèque Vandamme library will be relocated from the basement to the top of the building's plinth.
MVRDV will also create 62 social housing units and a 500-square-metre kindergarten.
Approximately 150 scooter parking spaces will be added within the six-storey underground car park.
Local architect SRA
Installation consultant LAFI + INEXC
Cost consultant Vanguard
Facade engineers RFR
Acoustic consultant LASA
Fire safety consultant: BATISS