A great urban project for an exceptional campus
In April 2013 the Cité Internationale entered a new era in its history. With the signature of the tripartite agreement, the Ville de Paris, the Chancellery of the Universities and the Cité Internationale approved the main directives of the management plan for the Cité, and nominated this last as the contracting authority for the management operation.
The signature of this document authorises the implementation of a great urban project: not only the imminent construction of almost 1,800 new lodgings for students and researchers, but also the extension and reclassification of the grounds of the Cité Internationale to emphasise its scenic structure and to revitalize and rebalance the ways in which it is used.
This project will complete the work of the Cité, which has not seen any growth in its capacity to offer accommodation since 1969. However, its ambitious objectives go beyond the mere issue of an increase in the accommodation available, since it is seeking to maintain, if not to extend, the specific purpose of the site: enabling students and researchers living on the Cité campus, as well as Parisians and occasional visitors to benefit from spaces ideal for work and for meeting other people, in an exceptional scenic and architectural setting, at a standard fitting the prestige of Paris and its universities.
Bruno Fortier: Project Manager for the Land Management Project
The Guide Plan, (created by EXP architects), validated by all the Cité’s partners in April 2013 has served as a framework for the consultation process launched at the end of June 2013, with the purpose of entrusting a multi-disciplinary team with two main missions: the supervision of the land management of the site in terms of landscaping, town planning and architecture, as well as the architectural coordination of the new programmes for the accommodation.
As a result of a closed European call for tenders, to which several architects of renown responded, it is the Bruno Fortier / TN+ Group, which has been nominated by the Cité Internationale as Project Manager for the operation.
The broad principles of the Bruno Fortier / TN+ group
In its tender the successful team re-stated the broad principles of the Guide Plan by revising, reinterpreting or expanding them. In particular the team emphasised the following points:
- The project as “flagship”: the features of each sector of the grounds (the “gardens of the world”, which grace the residences, the broad avenue and the large park, which encloses the central lawn) will be given prominence by large scale proposals, which use the idea of “urban forest” to emphasise the qualities of the Cité Universitaire and its impact on Greater Paris.
- The layers of the plant community, basis for biodiversity: the different layers of the plant community will be strengthened in order to promote biodiversity.
- The ecological corridor: the ecological corridor through the park will be reinforced both on the east-west and north-south axes between Montsouris Park, the aqueduct walk and the walk along the banks of the A6 on the territory of the towns of Gentilly and Arcueil. Part of this last walk is already completed and work on the other part is under way. The needs of pedestrians and cyclists and the ecological viewpoint will be taken even more firmly into consideration and blended together.
- To the south, the “wide bank”: the grounds will be protected from pollution from the peripheral/ring-road motorway by a landscaping device, which will delineate a wide bank along the avenue.
Other provisions will make it possible to emphasise the southern fringe of the grounds: the gables of the residences overlooking the ring-road motorway will be treated as “pictures” in order that the new houses will blend seamlessly into the whole, as an expression of the identity of the Cité. The protective landscaping device facing the ring-road motorway could take the form of an embankment treated as a “tree-lined ribbon” which will glide beneath the houses and cover their communal spaces.
The submission of an application for a land management permit is scheduled for the beginning of 2015. The work will be able to start, as soon as the land management permit has been obtained, at the end of a year of public inquiry, in other words at the beginning of 2016.
The work will be organised in two phases:
• The works scheduled in the first phase (2016-2018) will principally concern the provision of utility services on the building plots, the modernisation of the sports facilities and the improvement of the links between the east and west parts of the Cité.
• The works scheduled in the second phase (2019-2020) will concern the extension and reclassification of the park.