Place de la République, Paris

Due to its exceptional size (120 metres by nearly 300 metres), its symbolic dimension as a representative public statement and its location in the city, the Place de la République occupies a special place in the international hub that is Paris. The redevelopment of the square by TVK – Pierre Alain Trévelo and Antoine Viger-Kohler together with Areal Landscape Architecture and Martha Schwartz Partners is based on the concept of an open space with multiple urban uses. The elimination of the traffic circle frees the site from the dominating constraint of motor vehicle traffic. The creation of the concourse marks the return of calm in an airy, uncluttered, two-hectare space. The new square, now skirted by motor traffic, creates a large-scale landscape and becomes an urban resource, available and adaptable for different uses. Clear connections with the large boulevards promote a new balance centred on soft transport for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. The statue of Marianne, the reflective pool, the ­pavilion and the rows of trees form a strong axis. All these ­elements contribute to both the interpretation of unitary materials in a perennial and contemporary manner and multiple ­explorations creating different urban ambiances.

The surface consists of paving slabs of different colours and ­sizes. The shady areas of the square are paved mostly in darker colours, while the open areas are generally paler. The choice of prefabricated concrete ensures good performance in all weather, offering a low-maintenance surface for a great variety of uses. This material also enables the use of monochrome colours, ­creating continuity with the surrounding surfaces of roads and roofs. The density of the various networks present under the Place de la République mean it also serves as a “roof”: The site is home to five Metro lines, sewers and telecom tunnels. The levels of the square create a main movement of great simplicity, vital to the spatial comprehension of the space and an understanding of its vastness. The simple one per cent incline of the central concourse reveals two wide terraces at the back of the esplanade that are in keeping with the scale of the surrounding area. The terraces continue the concourse but are edged to the north with steps. Between these terraces, the ground gradually drops towards the two large palace buildings and the shared trafficked area (pedestrians, cycles, buses, taxis), providing for a continuity of traffic flow and good accessibility. The square is unified by the single grand compositional movement and the one inorganic surface treatment. This unity helps to define three distinct sections: the urban garden of over 2,000 square metres, planted and organised into several sub-areas; the central concourse of almost 12,000 square metres, which is 35 metres wide with the statue de la ­Republique as the focal point; and the continuity of all the boulevards, with the road system on three of its sides and the widened pavement (13 metres on the longer side to the south west, which is the busiest side). The Place de la République is now ­a new central attraction, a place for exchange and meetings and the largest pedestrian square in Paris. Two terraces incorporated into the continuity of the square encourage people to sit and relax. The southwest part of the square has a 162 square metres pavilion also designed by TVK, a unique building that is glazed throughout to retain a continuous impression of this singular space. The layout was designed by NP2F architectes.

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