A Greener Paris Is Just Down The Road
Paris is a city known not only for its history, but for the pride it takes in it. In many ways, it is a city caught somewhere between the past and the present. But with the help of the Mille Arbres project (which in English means “Thousand Trees”), Paris is definitively headed towards the future of sustainable design.
OXO– an architecture firm known for their innovative, futuristic endeavors (we previously covered their proposed vertical garden in the Sahara Desert)– has teamed up with OGIC, Compagnie Phalsbourg, and Sou Fujimoto to create “Mille Arbres,” a Paris-based project described on their website as “a new way to discover the city.”
Unlike other green building projects, which often seek ways of bringing nature into the heart of urban spaces, Mille Arbres is being built on a universally-maligned spot of French land: the ring road. Also called the Boulevard Périphérique or just the périph, the ring road circles Paris and acts as something of a border. The highway marks the division between the city and its suburbs– and it is also accused of separating the rich from the poor. For the architects behind Mille Arbres, however, it is the perfect space to explore where Paris is headed in terms of sustainability– the future of green living wherein both the upper and lower classes can coexist in a way that isn’t in conflict with nature (or each other).
Phillipe Journo, President of Compagnie Phalsbourg, said of the project, “We think that ambition and audacity, in the capital of a country with a glorious past… is to dare to engage in another type of urban development, planting 1000 trees here, above the ring road of Paris.”
Mille Arbres isn’t just about planting trees, however. The site, which resembles a futuristic, utopian space cruise, aims to reinvent the famous Parisian “art de vivre” by “reconciling nature and architecture”. In addition to the green spaces fundamental to the project, the structure will provide a number of services: it will act as a public promenade, a center for biodiveristy, the location of 127 new apartments and offices, a four-star hotel with 250 rooms, a “street of chefs” (which will offer not just food, but workshops, as well), and a two-level bus station.
The so-called “heart of the project” is the Mille Arbres Children’s Center, which is set to include a covered playground, a nursery, and day care, all of which will offer workshops on biodiversity, beekeeping, botany, gardening, and building with recycled materials.
In placing children at the core of its mission, OXO and partners have ensured that the project provides a cue for the future by way of educating the next generation. With Mille Arbres– and the optimistic new world it speaks to– Paris will soon have yet another reason to be as proud of its future as it is of its past.