January 27, 2021
‘Ecological, Desirable, and Inclusive’: Reinventing the Champs-Élysées
Stretching almost two kilometres between the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde in the French capital, the famous thoroughfare has been overwhelmed in recent decades by pollution from its eight-lane road and busy roundabouts. Recently approved by the Mayor of Paris, plans designed by architecture firm PCA-Stream will transform the site into a welcoming social space full of greenery and rest stops.
Currently, an average of more than three thousand vehicles pass along the Champs-Élysées every hour, resulting in more pollution than that produced by the périphérique ring road that circles Paris. The trees that line the street are struggling in the low air quality, and Parisians themselves rarely walk along the cracked footpaths if they can avoid it. ‘It’s often called the world’s most beautiful avenue, but those of us who work here every day are not at all sure about that,’ said Jean-Noël Rinhardt, president of the Champs-Élysées committee responsible for commissioning PCA-Stream’s original proposal.
The renovation, set to cost €250 million (almost AUD$400m), takes some of the space previously allocated to cars and replaces it with more pedestrian-friendly gardens and plazas. PCA-Stream’s Philippe Chiambaretta hopes to reinvent this central area of Paris as a place people can gather surrounded by greenery, where they can admire the historic landmarks with less disruption from motor traffic. As well as the shifting of cars, more trees and plants will also help improve the overall air quality while providing more shade, and a beautiful diamond pattern will brighten the pavement. Some space will remain for vehicles to pass through, but locals and tourists alike will have much more room to enjoy public art, outdoor dining, or a simple stroll.
The majority of works on the Champs-Élysées will not begin until after the 2024 Olympic Games, giving the wave of visitors who will arrive in Paris one last look at the old road. However, it is hoped that the Place de la Concorde at the south-east end of the road will be completed before the global sporting event, providing a taste of the grand transformation to come. The timing of this renovation also aligns with ongoing upgrades to the Paris Métro, hopefully allowing drivers to switch their commutes to more eco-friendly public transport without significant disruptions to their travel time.
Restoring the Champs-Élysées to its former glory requires adaptation, allowing cities to keep up with ever-evolving modern life. These redesigns are sure to bring the joy of people back, and we at Casper Magazine can already imagine doing a little window shopping along the reinvented thoroughfare.
For more environmentally friendly redesigns of iconic world landmarks, see 3deluxe’s take on a car-free Times Square.