Perrault to Redevelop La Cité

Identity Island


Unlike in Spain, where prime ministers are uninterested in architecture, in France it is a tradition for French presidents to leave a ‘monumental’ legacy. Beyond emulating Napoleon or Louis xiv, they know that only presidential power can carry out projects of great magnitude and big budgets in which different administrations are involved. So it is that Georges Pompidou is bound in name with the famous art center at Beaubourg, François Mitterrand is remembered for the Louvre pyramid and the Grande Bibliothèque de France, among other things, and even the lambasted Sarkozy will be associated with the metropolitan Grand Paris of the future. To this list we should add the current president, François Hollande, who just a few months before stepping down has announced his ‘personal’ grand projet: the redevelopment of the very heart of Parisian and French identity, the Île de la Cité. Conceived to be executed over a long time period (completion is programmed for the year 2040), the project has been entrusted to Dominique Perrault, architect, too, of Mitterrand and Sarkozy. Perrault will be working with Philippe Bélaval, president of the Centre des monuments nationaux (CMN), in drawing up a masterplan that will not only give new use to some large stretches of land on the island that the defense ministry recently freed up, but also reorganize vehicular traffic and parking zones, and reinterpret, in general, the enclave’s thirty hectares. All this so that the Cité, the cradle of pre-Roman Lutetia, will “preserve its institutional substance” while winning back street life, beyond tourism and monuments.

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