DAMN° spoke to Jean-Louis Missika, Deputy Mayor of Paris, about Réinventer Paris.
DAMN°: What is behind the idea for Réinventer Paris?
Jean-Louis Missika: When I took office after the may- oral elections in 2014, I had the idea of organising a competition. So I asked the City’s department of Ur- banism to propose sites that all belonged, directly or indirectly, to the city and were available. I wanted it to be like a Japanese bouquet [with many different types of flowers], corresponding to all the problems that are present in a city like Paris: from an important heritage building to an 18th-century private mansion and up to industrial wasteland, passing through a lot of buildings to be renovated and transformed. And with [residential/mixed use] projects Mille Arbres by Sou Fujimoto and Ternes-Villiers by Jacques Ferrier, the idea was to cross over the periphery, which is why there are those two spaces being built above the Périphérique (the major ring road around Paris).
DAMN°: A lot of the projects emphasise the use of greenery, like plants and trees. Was this a major consideration?
J-L M: Greenery, nature in the city, is one of the key subjects of the 21st century, notably because of the struggle against global warming and levels of heat in cities. But that’s not the only heavy trend being ad- dressed by the project. There’s also renewable energy and the role of wood as a construction material.
DAMN°: Can you give us an example of a project centred on collective spaces?
J-L M: The Bains-douches Castagnary project, because it’s residential and everything is shared [co-renting and co-working]. They’ve invented a new form of lease whereby each tenant is responsible for his part only, and not for the totality of the apartment. At the heart of Réinventer Paris is the revolution regarding usage and the organising of a competition that wasn’t just focused on architectural creativity. It is not only a property developer and an architect proposing a project but a multidisciplinary team, sometimes with the final users, presenting a project about the life of a building. There’s not the disassociation that always exists de facto between the creation of the building and its life. In the case of NOC 42 [Not Only a Campus – l’École 42], which is low-cost student housing, the property developer is the computer programming school.
DAMN°: To what extent does Réinventer Paris actually address the need for more social and affordable housing?
J-L M: There are many proposals based on a social mix, with accommodation of all prices in the same place. If you take David Chipperfield’s Boulevard Morland project, it has everything from housing to a youth hostel [plus offices, retail, artist spaces, and childcare facilities]. We made an anti-speculation charter to prevent urban side effects, such as a developer buying a building and selling it for an extortionate price. There’s a clause in the terms of sale specifying that there cannot be a substantial increase in the selling price for 15 years. It transpired that the biggest developers had more difficulty adapting to this competition framework than small or medium- sized developers. So the results are quite surprising, because the big names in property development are not present.