Redefining Paris’ ‘Underground’ Scene

Author: Lane Nieset       

Viparis

Viparis has changed the landscape around trade show venue Espace Champerret with its Peace & Log project that moved supplier truck traffic underground. (Viparis-HÇrault Arnod Architectures)

In Paris, a project is under way to reinvent the city’s underground spaces. We caught up with the winner of the second edition of “Reinventing Paris” — venue consortium Viparis — to hear details about its Peace & Log project and how that plan could have an impact on the capital’s meetings and events landscape.

With Peace & Log, Viparis wanted to improve the quality of life in the area surrounding trade show venue Espace Champerret, which it manages. “This project allowed us to achieve all of our goals: better events for our organizer clients, a better visitor experience for their delegates, and a better environment for our Parisian neighbours with less traffic, less pollution, and [the introduction] of locally produced organic vegetables and fruits,” said Pablo Nakhle Cerruti, CEO of Viparis.

“Reinventing Paris,” a project of Mayor Anne Hidalgo, began with above-ground proposals. For part two, the attention moved “under the cobblestones,” focusing on spaces previously relegated to Paris’ municipal services, like transportation or heating networks. Titled “Subterranean Secrets of Paris,” this “CFP opens up new horizons,” Hidalgo said.

Viparis

Part of Viparis’s for the reimagined surroundings of Espace Champerret included sculptural architecture like this entrance and stairway for Agripolis Le Comptoir. (Viparis-HÇrault Arnod Architectures)

Peace & Log sets out to alleviate traffic jams linked to events at Espace Champerret by utilizing the venue’s lower levels. Delivery vehicles would get their own dedicated dock (a former service station), which would mean easier truck access to the site, speeding up event set-up and dismantling and reducing pollution and traffic jams in the area, which is about 15 minutes from the Arc de Triomphe.

A second part of the plan aims to encourage visitors headed to the venue to take public transportation — without worrying about hauling heavy bags around. To achieve that, Viparis partnered with Parisian startup Eelway — a baggage management platform that offers luggage lockers in venues like the city’s AccorHotels Arena — to develop a luggage management service, offering storage and delivery.

A third aspect, and one that adds a local touch to this urban project, are plans for development of a below-ground organic farm shop. Viparis and its partner Agripolis would grow produce to be used by the venue’s catering team during events and sold to the public (shoppers would reach the locaton via a stairway from street level). Some of the produce would come from the planned rooftop farm at the new Pavilion 6 at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, which is scheduled to debut in 2020 and would be the world’s largest urban farm.

“The rules of the game are simple,” Cerruti said of “Reinventing Paris.” “People come up with a building development project, financed by private or public funds. The city makes a building site available, and sells or rents it, not to the highest bidder, but to the best, most innovative project, which fits the mayor’s vision of the Paris of tomorrow: a green city, a connected city, an ingenious city and a free city.”

Paris Deputy Mayor Jean-Louis Missika added: “By bringing in natural light and creating a new vertical relationship between the subterranean city and the one on the surface, these projects will open up a new dimension in city planning.

“Tunnels, unused gas stations, parking lots, reservoirs, these are all infrastructures that deserve a second life.”