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21/07/2010

PARIS SUBURB MAKES PLANS FOR EMPTY ISLE

 

[FRSEGUIN] Jean Nouvel Studio
Je ne résiste pas à vous "transférer" cet article du Wall Street Journal sur l'Ile Seguin.
ArticLe en V.O:
Un bon moyen d'entretenir votre anglais durant ces vacances
(qui dira que le Wall Sreet Journal n'est pas sérieux ?......surprise plutôt bonne, isn't ?)

An architect's drawing of an aerial view of plans for Ile Seguin, an island in the Seine River southwest of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

BOULOGNE-BILLANCOURT, France—A piece of prime real estate, an island on the Seine River southwest of the Eiffel Tower, finally may get developed after sitting empty since 1992.

Numerous plans for what to do with the Ile Seguin, in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, have been developed over the years, but none has managed to break ground.

Earlier this month, however, SAEM Val de Seine Aménagement, a business and government group led by local officials from Boulogne-Billancourt, unveiled a detailed rendering of what the city would like to see built on the island.

The plans designed by architect Jean Nouvel envision "an island of the arts" boasting indoor and outdoor gardens, a large music hall, and a possible museum, among mixed-use development plans for the long, skinny island, which for decades was an important factory for the French auto company Renault SA. Under the plan, proceeds from the sale of sites to private developers for residential, retail and office projects will be used to finance public amenities and infrastructure.

Officials say a total price tag for the multiyear development hasn't been determined, but it is expected to run into the hundreds of millions of euros. The regional government is planning to finance the development of a €150 million ($194 million) music venue with two concert halls.

The development of the island has been a source of controversy in the past and still faces some obstacles.

For example, it isn't yet clear what demand will be like for the sites from private developers while Europe, along with much of the rest of the world, struggles with an economic downturn.

Also, it will be well into 2011 before construction begins, with zoning approval requiring months of work. The time line released with the announcement of the plans indicates construction will begin in 2012, with completion by the end of 2017.

André Moine, a director at the development organization, said the release of the latest plans is a critical step. "The city has to say what it wants so it can be built," Mr. Moine said.

French authorities have a history of creating grand visions for urban development, going back as far as the palace of Versailles in the 17th century. More recently, the establishment of La Défense business district near Paris was initiated by the French government using a public-private structure similar to the one being proposed for Ile Seguin.

"In France, there's somewhat more of a tradition of the royal imperialism, where the government leads big things," says Marc Weiss, chairman and chief executive at the think tank Global Urban Development.

But, as the case of Ile Seguin shows, sometimes this method can be slow-moving. Auto maker Renault closed its factory on the island in 1992. It took some time to de-industrialize the site, and there were several competing visions for what should be done with the island, says Erik Sondén, chairman of the Urban Land Institute, a research and education organization. Some auto workers, for example, wanted to preserve and celebrate the history of the factory, the site of successful strikes in the 1960s.


FRSEGUIN
Jean Nouvel Studio

A drawing of river-level public space designed for Ile Seguin. Officials hope to finally break ground on the project in 2012.In 2000, a French billionaire tried to develop a part of Ile Seguin, but his attempt to direct the vision for the island failed. Businessman François Pinault announced plans to plow €150 million of his own fortune into a modern-art museum on the western end of the island. He said his idea was to showcase his private art collection, and he hired Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando.

But in May 2005, Mr. Pinault announced he was giving up his plan for Ile Seguin and moving his museum to another island: Venice.

In an editorial in the French newspaper Le Monde, Mr. Pinault said he was frustrated that, five years after he announced his project, no concrete plans had been made for the development of the rest of the island. He said he didn't want to have his museum sit next to a construction site at best, or a wasteland at worst, for years after opening.

To help jump-start development, various local and regional government authorities joined forces and set up SAEM Val de Seine Aménagement. The organization bought the island from Renault for €43 million and hired architect Mr. Nouvel, also a Pritzker-prize recipient.

Included in Mr. Nouvel's plan for the 183-acre island are a school, a movie theatre, public gardens, cultural venues and mixed commercial uses. At a recent press conference where his plans were unveiled, Mr. Nouvel said the island will be using 100% sustainable energy, such as solar and geothermal sources.

"Here, we can create our own concept of urban life," he said.

The Wall Street Journal (21 juillet 2010)

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