Parc de la Villette

Key Facts:

Project summary: An international competition won by Bernard Tschumi to revitalise the abandoned and undeveloped land previously occupied by a meat market and slaughterhouses in a working class district of Paris.

Location: 19th Arrondissement, Paris, France

Programme: Restaurants, Art Workshops, Music Pavilions, Recreation Facilities, Gardens, Landscape

Initiator: François Barré

Project Duration: Ongoing (Opened in 1987)

Lead in Time: 5 years (3 years on site construction prior to opening)

Site Area: 55 hectares

Client Team: The French National Government

Project Team: The lead designer was Bernard Tschumi with a team of 17 people.

Funding Sources: French National Government (an initial £300m budget that later had to raise funds to cover the full cost of £900m)

Funding Type: Public Sector

Project Costs (Build): Unknown

Project Costs (Operation): Unknown

Profitability/Loss: Building Cost £575m

Permissions / Permits: Large public projects in France tend to have centralised decision making; consequently, a politician with real power does not have to get approval from a committee or governing body.

Local Links: Unclear

Publicity/advertising: An international competition that attracted attention from the media

Project Evaluation:

Site Details & Ownership:
Located in the north-eastern part of Paris bordered by the Boulevard Peripherique, in the heart of a working class district; the 55 hectare plot of land was state owned.

Project Reach / Visitors / Target Audience:
It was intended to become the new hub of activity for the Parisian north-east. It was trying to engage with the locals and with the artistic community. It has an estimated 8 million visitors annually.

Problems Encountered / Overcome:
Due to its radical nature the public in general had a divided opinion on the proposal. A change in political parties during its construction meant that the project was stalled and almost cancelled at one point. This political volatility would last through most of the construction. At times the project would stop for six months before more funding could be found.

Most visitors spend less than an hour inside the park, and a study carried out 5 years after its completion stated that 80% of visitors spend less than two hours in the park.

Feedback from users / staff:
The public in general complain about the lack of greenery, the presence of dogs, the lack of signage (27% visitors complain), still a construction site, and the lack of comfort. There is also a big distinction between the park user and the visitor to the institutions on site, which rarely mix.
A survey titled : “Le Public des Espaces de Plein Air” was conducted by the park in 1993

What next?
A large number of the functionless red follies designed by Tschumi have recently been adapted to accommodate new programmes such as cafes, workshops and child care.

Complementary Programmes: Open-air Cinema, Art Institutions

Project Website / Further Info: