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Paris: new metro station by EMBT

Posted by
on November 07, 2014 at 01:04 PM

Infrastructure - the most contentitious issue in urban India; with a number of projects planned and seen to have failed - miserably! Pedestrian skywalks and the metro rail network are the biggest plagues of our megapolises. The new metro project in Paris is aimed to improve the overall transport network with the help of the three soon-to-be-constructed metro stations. Cleverly planned for the future, and certainly addressing the issues faced by commuters; does this new proposed structure seem relevant in the exisitng fabric of the city of Paris??

© Courtesy of Aniruddha Mahale

While  Mumbai still struggles with maintaining the first leg of its highly ambitious metro project, running from Ghatkopar to Versova, connecting the eastern and western corridors, the world moves ahead faster than before. It was recently announced that there’s going to be an extension to the vibrant metro lines in Paris, France  covering a new route, and never-before connected neighborhoods. The Grand Paris Express project is run by public agency Société du Grand Paris and involves building a new, fully automated metro line to form a ring-route around the perimeter of the city, with three offshoots to serve developing neighborhoods.

A whopping €300 million has been invested in the first 33 kilometers of the network since 2013. The intention is to build 205 kilometers of line by 2030, connecting the network to airports and major TGV high-speed train stations that connect Paris to the rest of France- making the metro amore national commodity, instead of just a local mode of transport. A total of 72 new stations will be built as part of the project, dotted around France to make the entire project a crucial architectural endeavor.

EMBT, a Spanish architectural firm  founded and run  by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue will design the new Clichy-Montfermeil station in collaboration with French architects, while Brazilian-born Paris-based Elizabeth De Portzamparc will design the offshoot Le Bourget station. The architect for the third and final station at Saint-Denis Playel hasn’t yet been disclosed to the general public. The overall aim of the project is to improve the overall transport network with the help of the three soon to be constructed metro stations.

The scheme at the new Clichy-Montfermeil station includes a new public square as well as an underground station sheltered underneath a pergola roof, with natural light brought into the space using a large skylight that opens out into the atrium below, bathing the entire metro station in natural sunlight. Long, zigzagging escalators provide access to the ticket hall and platforms, crisscrossing through the entire layout. the layout produces increased interaction between passers-by, making the passenger the foreground, and the metro station, the background. The main attractive feature of the station however is its highly vibrant and geometrically-designed canopy, that continues as the walls of the atrium which further leads to the train platforms which are situated four stories below. The platforms will be illuminated by a semi-transparent wooden facade and large skylights.  Flexibility for future programming, station visibility, and the presence of nature are all major influencing aspects of the design.

According to the architects of this ambitious project, the entire approach of the scheme  is looking for the maximum integration of the metro station's access into the urban context - something which the Mumbai model can take a lesson or two from. As they explain through their conceptual drawings and sketches, the access is made through a slow slope with stairs that invites the people coming out of the station to participate on the square. The quadrangle of sorts, in turn will host markets twice a week and also provide secure bicycle parking facilities. The 6,800-square-metre station will be the connection point for travellers to and from Le Bourget airport, creating an important focal node in the city, opening up various new avenues in different fields of urban planning. The project is currently in its schematic design phase.

The design is formed from a series of rectangular volumes. The basic idea behind the new metro station is to transform this grey and abandoned place into a vivid and colourful square, which inspires joy and optimism- this is of key importance, considering the fact that neighbourhoods of Clichy-sous-bois and Montfermeil were involved in major social and political discontent up until 2005.

The motifs of the pavement, the shapes and the colours of the roof on the tissues, decorative motives and colours have been based on those from Africa- to further supplement the cause, and to reinvigorate a feeling of joy and most importantly, hope in the erstwhile communities of  Clichy-sous-bois and Montfermeil."Thanks to the used materials and a strong presence of nature, the station becomes a place to 'live', a combination of user-friendly and sensorial atmosphere,"  the architects say of its scope for creating an impact on the already rich urban fabric of Paris. It’s as much of a living entity, as the user, and in terms of most urban design projects, that’s the most crucial part of design. 

Designer : Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, EMBT, Spain
Photography :N/A

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