Sarkozy to unveil designs for Paris of the future

Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:01pm EDT
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By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters) - Futuristic glass towers, monorails high above the traffic or an artificial island in the Seine are among 10 projects that could transform Paris in the decades ahead.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to outline on Wednesday what is billed as one of the biggest redevelopments of the French capital since Baron Haussmann carved grand boulevards out of the city in the 19th century.

The projects included in an initial selection go on display in the Cite de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, the Paris architectural museum where Sarkozy first called for a "bold" design overhaul in September 2007.

Britain's Richard Rogers, who designed the 1970s landmark Pompidou Center, Antoine Grumbach, a French architect who wants to link Paris with Le Havre on the Atlantic coast, or Roland Castro, who envisions a new business center built on an artificial island in the Seine have presented designs.

The projects could enable Sarkozy to leave Paris with the kind of "Grands Travaux" (Major Projects) beloved of past presidents such as Francois Mitterrand, patron of monuments such as the new National Library or the glass pyramid at the Louvre.

But pressing economic, environmental and demographic constraints facing Paris and the surrounding Isle de France region are driving the plans.


Confined within the "peripherique" ringroad, the city of Paris has just over 2 million inhabitants, compared with about 7.5 million in Greater London, and pressure to merge with the neighboring suburban areas has grown steadily.   Continued...

<p>A visitors looks at Castro's architectural project as part of "Le Grand Paris" exhibition which opens April 30 2009 at the Architecture museum in Paris April 29, 2009. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to unveil 10 architectural projects tomorrow aimed at creating a Greater Paris linking the inner city with outlying suburbs and transforming the French capital into a 21st century metropolis rivalling cities like London and New York. REUTERS/Charles Platiau</p>