If you’ve been concerned that hotshot Danish architect and “hedonistic sustainability” cheerleader Bjarke Ingels — he of the trash incinerator ski slope and tetrahedron-shaped courtscraper — may be at the risk of mellowing out, fear not … the latest project unleashed by his firm, a sprawling mini-city topped with an undulating green roof that’s planned for the Paris ‘burbs, is reliably and refreshingly bananas.
A team led by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) was recently announced as having won the bid to design Europa City, a nearly 200-acre (8.6 million square feet!) “cultural, commercial, and leisure destination” to be erected on a patch of bucolic farmland between Charles de Gaulle and La Bourget airports in the heavily populated Il-de-France region. It’s rather tricky to describe the appearance of the ring-shaped mega-development which will be home to shops, hotels, performance venues, museums, nightclubs, restaurants, swimming pools, urban farms, hiking trails, waste heat-powered spas, an aquarium, and an artificial ski slope (but of course) while serving, in the words of BIG, as “a laboratory for sustainable technologies and a showcase for viable green tech implementations that does not only save energy, but also improves the quality of the urban environment.”
I do think Curbed gives it a decent attempt, however, describing the park-topped, transit-connected complex as being “kind of like a warped green vinyl record sitting on an incredibly tricked-out shopping mall.” I was going to say crashed UFO-meets-the Edmonton Mall-meets Central Park in the middle of a field but I think Curbed's description will suffice.
Perhaps BIG should step in and clarify:
Europa City will be an experimental hybrid between urbanism and landscape design: center and periphery overlapped in the simultaneous coexistence of a recreational open landscape of rolling hills superimposed on an urban neighborhood of walkable streets, plazas and parks. We find that Paris these years is taking on a holistic effort to ensure that the urban periphery is given equal opportunity to be as lively and inhabitable as its historic center. Europa City will be an important step in this agenda.
In line with Ingels’ deep-green leanings, the whole shebang will be self-sustaining: A combination of solar, biofuels, and geothermal energy will not only power
the facility but provide the nearby residential neighborhoods of Triangle de Gonesse with heating and cooling. Both wastewater and rainwater will be collected and reused to irrigate the insulating roof-cum-park and surrounding “historic agricultural landscape.”
A pedestrian- and bike-friendly ring road looping around the entire complex will move visitors to Europa City from points A to B while there are also plans for a form of “electric public transport” to service the complex. The roof itself will be accessible from five key entry points on the pedestrian promenade where it dips down to field-level. BIG promises that the views of the Paris skyline — the Eiffel Tower, Tour Montparanasse, Grande Arche, etc. — from atop the roof will be nothing less than remarkable. Tess, Transsolar, Base, Transitec, and Michel Forgue collaborated with BIG on the winning Europa City design. There's no clear estimate when — or if — Europa City will break ground.
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