Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has said “Oui” to a plan to transform the French capital’s famous Champs-Élysées and nearby areas. The project, headed by PCA-Stream, will involve the planting of thousands of plants and trees, turning the city streets from gray to green.
According to PCA-Stream, only 5 percent of visitors to the Champs-Élysées are actually Parisians making use of it in any meaningful way. The firm hopes to tempt locals back with an ambitious scheme that involves the planting of trees to improve the local air quality in the traffic-heavy site, as well as the expansion of pedestrian-safe areas and the reduction of traffic lanes and car parking spaces. Bicycle paths will be added, temporary stalls and kiosks installed for events, and there will be children’s playgrounds, too. There will also be some effort paid to the project’s sustainability.
“Nature can partially replace costly and polluting infrastructure,” says the firm. “For instance, recovering soil permeability wherever possible, creating planted ‘lounges,’ bioswales, and buffer strips to increase water infiltration and the construction of retention basins where the former ditches of Place de la Concorde lay will filter pollutants and harvest rainwater. The re‐designed living ecosystem of the Champs‐Élysées thus acts as an air purifier, absorbing CO2, minimizing dust, increasing rainwater infiltration, cooling the air via evapotranspiration, increasing the amount of shade and restoring wildlife habitat to increase urban biodiversity.”
Additionally, the famous Place de l’Étoile roundabout/traffic circle will have its car lanes reduced from 11 to a still-considerable seven, and the existing Champs-Élysées gardens will be re-landscaped. The Place de la Concorde will also be transformed with trees, terraced gardens and a pool added.
It’s early days yet however, and work is not expected to begin in earnest until after Paris hosts the 2024 Summer Olympics. Completion is slated for 2030, with The Guardian reporting the budget at €250 million (roughly US$305 million). The project is also part of a wider development push that includes a landscaping project around the Eiffel Tower area.
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