Reinventing Paris – The Subterranean Secrets of Paris
Paris has been carrying out a distinctive initiative to reinvent the underutilize spaces to enhance the urban fabric as a new city of the 21st Century. Under the leadership of Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo significant projects developed from these competitions such as: Reinventing Paris and Inventing the Grand Paris Metropolis. The initiative has attracted multidisciplinary professionals into discussing the reinvention of Paris to achieve success in terms of sustainability and urban resilience (Hill, 2014). New architectural inventions are believed to contribute to modernization of Paris while still preserving its character.
Reinventing Paris, The Subterranean Secrets of Paris is a reinvention objective of bringing up together various participants in the city to deliberate on a detailed level of architectural exploration with the purpose of improving the quality of urban spaces. The projects called Reinventing Paris were implemented for the facelift of Paris by increasing its attractiveness and a resilient welcoming city. This involved selection of projects that can be executed on the surface and underground sites in short and long term to elevate the sustainability of the city while addressing the needs of the residents. Some of the winners were the electrical substation Voltaire repurposed as a movie theatre and Castagnary Bathhouse transformed into an artistic collection. Not all the sites are technically underground.
Reinventing Paris is an important process of creating a sustainable city and also implementation of modernist ideas of creation of an ideal city. Such projects are important in overcoming the currents problems that originate from city congestion due population growth.
Urban sprawl has brought with it a share of problems including lack of open spaces, pollution, and poor health of the city (Missika and Hidalgo). The conventional approach to solve the city problems has failed and therefore, a radical change in redesigning city’s ground and underground spaces is the most appropriate approach to solve problems of urban sprawl. Paris initiative can serve as a model of urban sustainability for other cities. The model supports three ideas of utilization of underground space with a view of solving the problems of the current city and city of the future. Among these solutions include, diversification of the use of underground spaces. Diversification of the uses is a way of introducing other uses such as production activities. The second approach is developing network between underground space and the ground spaces to optimize available urban space. The last approach is utilization of underground natural resources to solve the congestion problems such as provision of green renewable energy.
Ground space redesign is the solution urban sprawl problems
This study uses examples of the project The Subterranean Secrets of Paris, aimed at reinventing Paris by utilization of ground spaces to improve city sustainability. Many cities just like Paris is faced with the challenge of dealing with the ever-increasing city congestion that emerged after World Wars. As most Nations and cities were rebuilding their destroyed infrastructure, cities became major centres of activities thus attracting large population that pursued jobs to make a living. The migration into the cities introduced countless challenges that forced most governments to redesign cities to reduce the congestion problems. However, many attempts failed. From the examples, one can argue that the conventional approach towards creation of city sustainability has failed and a radical change is the best method in solving problems. In this regard, the project The Subterranean Secrets of Paris provides a perfect example in dealing with city sprawl. It clarifies the development models that ensures sustainable and resilient city developed by multidisciplinary approach to innovations.
By bringing various participants, various professional skills are all together in developing feasible solutions to reinvention of urban spaces. The project The Subterranean Secrets of Paris uses this approach in its deliberations (Hill). Particularly, the underground knowledge is a fragmented idea among numerous professionals, scientists, contractors and engineers. Inviting these groups together integrates the knowledge and thus improves it for the benefits of identifying ways to utilize underground spaces.
The solution to the problems of urban sprawl is best solved in utilization of the urban spaces appropriately to maximize production. The usual urban spaces include the ground surface, the atmosphere and the underground space. The conventional methods of decongesting the modern cities has been set on building ground structures that extends to some great height. This is evident with the extensive rising of skyscrapers in most cities. However, this approach has not solved the problem of the 21st century regarding the city sprawl. The evidence of this claim resides in the statements made for the call of Reinventing Paris. According the City mayor, Anne Hidalgo, contemporary movement towards standardization dragged cities in nostalgia that could not develop solve problems of city of tomorrow (Fulcher). This echoes the fact that the attempts to solve the sprawl problems by conventional means has often hit a dead end. In this regard, the only way to solve problems is deviation from the norm and adopting new ways, methods and solutions to create a smart and a better solution. This approach is possible through innovations (Hill). The proposed projects called The Subterranean Secrets of Paris is about countless of innovations that seeks to integrate the sub surface spaces into the city. This is a deviation from typical approach of building the skyscrapers. In other words, besides utilization of the ground, a need to develop underground spaces is equally important. According to Jean-Louis Missika Deputy Mayor of Paris Tunnels, unused gas stations, parking lots and reservoirs deserve a second life.
As previously noted, typical use of underground surfaces has been restricted some activities. This restriction forms an impediment to expansion and development of a city with congestion. For instance, one of the challenges of the project of Reinventing Paris was the fact that the ground spaces were left to some specific activities. These specific activities were mainly transportation. This means that the only people that could access underground spaces were drivers and passengers. Thus, the spaces remain secret from the part of the city. From this, one clearly notes a disconnect that exist between the city surface and the ground spaces (Missika and Hidalgo). The clear solution to this problem is the integration of the two spaces. How does the integration possible? The activities underground form the basis of this separation. Therefore, diversification of underground spaces is a feasible means of linking the gap. The evidence this fact is explained in the challenges to of the subterranean secrets of Paris proposed project. The need of diversification of uses of the underground spaces include introduction of comfort conditions. This condition will allow introduction of productive activities such as industry, small businesses and even agriculture. Besides the introduction of production, entertainment facilities, cultural spaces, recreational activities, trade and logistics among other activities are main targets of the Reinvention of Paris. This projects therefore supports the idea that solving urban sprawl, particular the problem of congestion is made possible by diversification of the uses of underground spaces.
Diversification of ground activities is not enough to solve the congestion problems of urban spaces. We note that transportation was an isolated activity in underground space. Therefore, despite the diversification of the uses of the underground through introduction of comfort and production activities, the separation will not address the need of the locals. There will be a need to connect the ground spaces with the rest of the city spaces. The connection will not be limited to ground and surface but inter ground connections as well. Like the ground connection, networking is achieved via transportation and communication networks. Through innovations it is possible to design the ground spaces to accommodate the network infrastructure. It should be noted that, in designing the networks the means of access is important and technical considerations are vital in proper construction of these access entry.
The need to create connections among the urban spaces as suggested in this study, is a viable plan to improve life conditions of the city as well as creating sustainability as evident in most literatures. For instance, the transformation of Paris through innovative approach, not only suggested diversification of ground space activities but also networking of the ground spaces with the underground spaces through creation of such networks like transport. The networks were such that the interconnections integrated all spaces into a singular horizon. The project further proposed incorporation of organic substances into the sub-surface spaces. This is achievable by bringing atmospheric comforts into the underground spaces (Sullivan). The project proposed a study into the ways of achieving this proposal especially the use of technology to transfer natural light to the underground. In terms of air, condition, ventilation process is under scrutiny to establish the best way of introducing atmospheric conditions to the sub surface urban spaces. Therefore, a multidisciplinary approach will be a viable means of achieving this. This confirms the fact that solution of the urban problem of the 21st Century calls for various participants unlike the conventional architectural approach. Therefore, creation of networks underground connecting various city spaces is an important approach towards solving congestion problems through establishment of alternative spaces with similar atmospheric conditions as elsewhere in the urban space.
Another important way of utilization of ground spaces in solving the urban sprawl problem includes the use of natural capital of the underground spaces. Typical approach of urban development has been escalating of skyscrapers extending to greater heights. This means that ground has been dug to create stable ground for resting the massive weight of the building and providing stability. However, the underground resources in the urban set up has been ignored despite the fact that they can solve some problems associated with the urban sprawl. For example, one of the needs of sustainability of urban or solving the problems of the future city is utilization of green and efficient energy. Geothermal resources are some of the most important energy resources that can aid in the provision of clean energy. Traditionally, the resource has be tapped away from the city spaces in most nations. However, through innovative approach the underground spaces within urban spaces can offer the solution by integrating ecological materials by “experimenting with innovative planting and by achieving the target of zero waste, zero carbon”.
Besides geothermal resources, problem of the contemporary city overwhelmed in shock of congestion is clean and sufficient water. Underground spaces can be a source of clean water. Moreover, the ground source may provide water that can be treated to fit the need of the residents. Lastly, sub surface spaces can be source of valuable minerals that can be utilized in solving problems through revenue generation. This position is supported by the idea of The Subterranean Secrets of Paris, proposed project. According to the projects, the solution to the problems of standardization of the city is through innovative approach by involving different professions on ways of utilization of underground spaces. Among the proposed challenge include the use of underground city space as a natural capital that assists towards solving the current city problem as well as the future. Thus, it is evident that underground utilization as a natural capital can help solve city problems.
Urban sprawl is problem is a common problem of the current century owing to the population growth in urban centers. The problems include limited spaces for development, stretched resources available in the urban space. The conventional approach toward solving congestion problems has been mainly establishment of tall buildings to create more accommodation into space. However, this has not been sufficient to address problems and ensure sustainability. In this regard only, innovative approach can solve the problem.
Reinventing Paris – The Subterranean Secrets of Paris is an innovative approach model applicable to the solution of urban sprawl problems alongside enhancing sustainability. The model supports three ideas of utilization of underground space with a view of solving the problems of the current city and city of the future. Among these solutions include, diversification of the use of underground spaces. Diversification of the uses is a way of introducing other uses such as production activities. The second approach is developing network between underground space and the ground spaces to optimize available urban space. The last approach is utilization of underground natural resources to solve the congestion problems such as provision of green renewable energy.