ZAC SEINE MASTERPLAN PARIS
Water as way-finder
Zak Seine Masterplan Paris
Location: Paris, Status: Competition entry 2012, Scale: 37 Ha (4,500 homes)
Baca Architects have developed exciting plans to maximize the potential of a site at risk of flooding along the River Seine, just outside central Paris. The ZAC Seine Gare Vitry has been designed with water and nature at its heart. A thriving mix of uses will be created around blue/green ways and corridors to create a unique and economically vibrant new quarter, overlooking the River Seine. The 37ha site forms part of the larger 300ha Ardoines development project, the largest and most significant development operations in France. The masterplan was developed to maintain and encourage the economic sector, whilst allowing for significant development for over 6.5 million sq ft of habitable space (including 4,500 new homes).
An integrated planning and design approach was taken to tackle the complex site issues and identify solutions that would provide wider benefits and establish a clear strategy for redevelopment that would be safe, resilient and also create a unique sense of place.
The rich industrial, railway, and riparian heritage of the site inspired new architecture and urban realm typologies, across the site and into the surrounding neighbourhoods. Three urban nodes are each organized around a major mode of transport: Rail, River, & Road, creating a dynamic neighbourhood with sustainable communal transport at its core, connecting trains, river buses, cycle routes, and dedicated bus routes. These nodes form “catalysts” within a flexible masterplan enhancing the surrounding area, around which more conventional and economic buildings grow. Each node is like a stone dropped in water, causing a ripple, around, before coalescing in smaller ripples. They form nuclei of redevelopment, to create revitalisation zones that bring a quick enhancement to the area
Waterways link each of the nodes, as a reminder of the riverside location and a guide to the next node. These rills, swales, paths and pools form a navigation and way finding mechanism, leading inhabitants and visitors alike across the site. This aquatic framework doubles as part of a sustainable drainage system, slowing the flow of rainfall and filtering run off before it enters the watercourse. The waterways converge at the nodes to form aquatic features (rain squares, fountains, mirror ponds, flood parks), bringing the riparian environment to the surface. These blue/green waterways cascade down to the new river bus terminus within the ‘blue avenue’ that is the legendary Seine. This “Mise en ‘Seine’” celebrates the historical and environmental context, whilst creating a safe place to live.
Rather than relying on defences that are fallible, costly and increase floodrisk downstream, the masterplan developed by Baca makes space for water, both pluvial and fluvial. Water is accommodated on the site in a clearly managed and controlled way, which is safe, incremental and allows the continuity of daily life even in extreme floods. However, this space for water is in competition with high-density development, amenity space, space for renewable power provision, and transport demands. This therefore called for creative integrated planning solutions. An integrated technical solution was developed to tackle a number of constraints, such as flood risk and contamination, simultaneously. The strategy devised a logical and hierarchical approach to flooding: locating land uses in accordance to vulnerability and providing a system of safe havens and access routes, without requiring costly development and defence measures. These also help to reduce flood-risk to surrounding neighbourhoods. The masterplan illustrates how flood-risk design can be used to create more successful spaces rather than cowering behind defences.
Baca have teamed up with French counterparts atelier Villes & Paysages, and Egis France, bringing together local expertise and international knowledge.