Our entry in a global competition sponsored by UNI called “Salut Paris, Reclaiming the Urban Voids of Paris” was chosen as the grand winner by its jury. The assignment was to take a train station segment of the now defunct pedestrian railroad line that once circled Paris and re-activate it in a new and meaningful way. “Bend It” creates an urban park that welcomes everyone in what is presently a very diverse neighborhood in Paris. The site and its immediate neighborhood is steeped in Parisian history. Our vision was to create a space that weaves peoples of all ages and cultural and economic backgrounds into the Parisian fabric in a way that makes all feel welcome and united.
Our proposal weaves, extends, and restores existing uses, circulation, and features into and throughout the site. Instead of an area that one circumvents, our park becomes a pleasant alternative for foot traffic, shopping, lunching, lounging, playing, and attending theatrical or community events. During the day it functions as a public park and gathering place for surrounding neighborhoods. Evening use may easily expand the experience for dining and live performances in a new outdoor performance space. In these ways, we carefully reconnect the site to the larger circulation of the city while also gesturing to its historical context.
Two parallel Corten steel walls spanning the length of the site will define pedestrian circulation within the space for programmatic elements. As each wall bends towards the other, the site is divided into four sections that incorporate a garden, a market, a performance space, and auditorium seating. Mobile platforms that utilize the existing railroad tracks can be positioned to expand the market, create more seating, or create informal gathering and play areas for the community as required.
Relocating existing street level retail allows us to remove all additions that have been built onto the historic train station and obscuring its charming iconography. Full restoration will prominently reposition the former antiquity and its current restaurant, La Recyclerie, as a community focal point. The restored train station will then become a major point of entry to a new retail area at track level. Our idea is to re-purpose a Parisian relic that once served to welcome locals and visitors alike from across the city and globe as it did over a century ago.
Our hope is that the project will generate notable cultural and economic success and, in turn, inspire adjacent neighborhoods to develop their abandoned train lines for similar experiences. Alternative programmatic elements could be site specific and informed by each unique neighborhood and geography. When enough plots have been redeveloped, each will exist like beads on a string in a continuous and meaningful urban park experience.
Follow this link to see our entire entry and jury comments. Rachel Luchetti, one of the jurors noted: “Overall an excellent response to the brief – very sophisticated and humble.”