Behind the glitz of the Eiffel Tower, charming museums and historical buildings that reflect the glory of the past, Paris understands the importance of legacy, as it continues to unfold equally in style.
In Clichy-Batignolles, a small neighborhood in the city’s 17th district, just a few minutes drive from the famous Montmartre area, Paris is building an enclave that is a stunning example of urban innovation.
Clichy-Batignolles, which covers 54 hectares in the northwest part of the city, was once an isolated brownfield for transportation infrastructure. It was covered by the rail tracks of Saint-Lazare and a ring road that separated it from more vibrant areas.
Today, the neighborhood is turning into a modern eco-district, where the use of ground vehicles is controlled and limited, the waste management is top notch and the energy use is efficient.
Offices and apartments are equipped with solar panels and have terrace gardens and green roofs for better air. All buildings are connected to a heating grid powered by geothermal energy, which satisfies 85 percent of the enclave’s power consumption.
Clichy-Batignolles neighborhood, launched in 2002, is ran by a local public company called Paris Batignolles Amenagement. The construction of the eco-district involves 20 different property development firms. The project is expected to offer more than 12,000 new jobs.
During a media visit of Indonesian journalists in May, Paris Batignolles Amenagement director of communications Corinne Martin said the eco-district reflects Paris city council’s commitment to sustainable development. In 2007, the city introduced the Climate Action Plan to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and promote the use of renewable sources of energy. The plan also includes environmentally friendly housing and commuting, and the preservation of biodiversity.
“It is a long-term project, and a high-cost one. The construction is still ongoing, and we are slated to finish by 2020,” Martin said.
She added that the ambitious development will be the fruit of nearly two decades of works that included careful policy-making to turn it into a viable, good-as-example environment with an optimized use of space, social diversity, environmentally friendly transportation options and clean air.
Urban planner Francois Grether and architect Jacqueline Osty were selected to design the project in 2004. In 2007, the city opened the iconic Martin Luther King Park to introduce the up-and-coming district to Paris residents.
The park, which occupies 10 hectares of Clichy-Batignolles, serves as green space, urban air conditioner and a platform to maintain biodiversity. Its ecosystem includes tall trees, grasses, biotope ponds and wet ditches to ensure the reproduction of flora and fauna. It currently hosts nearly 500 plant species that are rarely found in other parts of Paris.
In 2012, Clichy-Batignolles welcomed its first 2,500 residents. Martin said that although land is scarce and expensive in the district, they were committed to build 3,400 housing units for a diverse population.
“We want to make sure everyone has a chance to live in this district. Fifty percent of the apartments are social housing units, which will allow people of various income levels to be able to settle here,” she said.
Twenty percent of the units are for rent and 30 percent for sale at market prices, which vary from 6,000 to 10,000 euros per square meter. Martin added that no distinctions are made in terms of location, as public and private housing units stand next to each other.
Clichy-Batignolles is the first neighborhood in France to install an automated vacuum waste collection system. The service, introduced in 2013, is a network of metal trash bins connected to underground pneumatic tubes that transport waste to a collection terminal on the outskirts of the district.
One only needs to hop on the rapid transit rail train or Metro 13 to the Saint Lazare station to reach Clichy-Batignolles. More public transportation options will be available when the district is ready. According to Martin, Clichy-Batignolles will also develop lanes for bicycles and bike rental stations.
Clichy-Batignolles’s mobility scheme is quite a bold move. Transportation will be centered on the main north-south thoroughfare shared by pedestrians, bicycles, buses and automobiles, which cannot exceed the speed of 30 kilometers per hour.
Cars will have to be parked in dedicated venues only, because ground-level parking will be reserved for deliveries and drop-offs.
“We discourage the use of larger vehicles. By focusing mobility in one area, we are minimizing the spread of pollution,” Martin said.
Since its launch three years ago, the Clichy-Batignolles urban project has won five national and regional awards, including the EcoQuartier Label award from the French Ministry of Housing and Sustainable Habitat. It has also won the call for innovative urban development projects for the creation of a smart grid by the European Regional Development Fund.