Reinterpretation of Paris, a design proposal by Daniel and Maximilian Zielinski

As we know, preservation defines the act of not to delete. It is about renovation, restoration, editing, adaptive reuse, and… reinterpretation. Reinterpretation or how to do with existing elements. Put another way: how to enhance existing elements with existing technologies to achieve a sustainable city? This is key element to French architects Daniel and Maximilian Zielinski's design proposal which consists in an ambition master plan for the modernization of Paris, France for the Living City Design Competition.
Existing Paris mainly dominated by cars…
Also Paris contains the marks of its history — buildings, design, roads, boulevards…

This competition was organized by the International Living Future Institute, in partnership with The National Trust for Historic Preservation. Daniel and Maximilian Zielinski pose the question of transforming Paris by incorporating the highest standards of ecological fund included in the Living Building Challenge 2.0.
Site diagram interpreting Zielinski's Paris regeneration approach:
irban agriculture, private gardens, fruit trees, underground roads, pedestrian roads…

The city? Paris, capital of France, with its 11,836,970 inhabitants (2,193,031 inhabitants for the little Paris), that is to say, the fifth largerst in the world.
Aerial view of Paris

This results in a city that combines traces of time, current and new perspectives. Much more than a reinterpretation, I would opt for a Paris regeneration in that the Zielinski succeed to "craft an elegant interplay of design solutions with very real-world strategies." Their proposal rejects the idea of a natural world that "might colonize urban environments (…) by creating fertile ground for people thriving in partnership with nature." They seem to prefer a sustainable city that is made for and with its population and the existing urban elements.

For the Zielinski, a sustainable city — be it existing or new — requires:

  • environmental education
  • making a better society and better individuals
  • integration of new technologies 

which means the participation of the population, and a better design that integrates new technologies, quality of life, economy, specific needs for the users. For the Zielinski, existing cities must integrate new demands for the population: modernization of transportation, healthcare, education, affordable housing and more options for senior citizens.
Interior courtyards

The incorporation of new technologies permits to reduce energy and water consumption, air and atmosphere alteration and building footprint, according to Daniel and Maximilan Zielinski. They add that "over 80% of the environmentally harmful emissions from buildings are due to energy consumption during the times when the buildings are in use."
Energy diagram

Integrating a vast array of practices and techniques together to delete buildings impacts on the environment and human health may be a response for a better city and building design and energy and water efficiency. Not only will outdoor and indoor air quality be impoved, but also waste and toxics will be minimized, the Zielinski say.
Water diagram

Civic squares are upgraded with a storm cell detention system below ground; larger courtyards integrate storm water attenuation ponds that enable water storage for later demands. Buildings use water are collected, purified, then reused on-site for a better use of water. The Zielinski's design proposal integrates common strategies of insulation and shading that minimize the need for light, cooling and heating.
Health diagram

Buildings are naturally ventilated and illuminated throughout. Photovoltaic systems and solar collectors are mounted on rooftops. The aim is a zero-carbon city. At least, it aims at achieving the challenge of reducing carbon emission of Paris and improving energy efficiency by making the city energy independent.
Beauty diagram

As the Grand Paris manifest highlighted, transportation is a huge issue in Paris, a Paris dominated by the use of cars. It is a fact that the city suffers of a lack of paths dedicated to bicycles. As a result of growing use of velib' and creating new forms of efficient transportation in the near future (electrical cars, to quote a few), it is urgent to reconsider Paris transportation and road systems. Firstly, transportation with the incorporation of electrical transport system powered by electricity from renewable sources. Secondly, roads which represent 19% of Parisian area. I am not sure that their strategy can be realisable but their suggestion can be interesting to be tested, at least to be taken into account: Daniel and Maximilian Zielinski propose to move the road system under the earth and making the streets pedestrian orientated. This strategy could make roads accessible to bycicles, garden and parks. For the Zielinski, this strategy would be a "new approach to the current means of transportation inside the city." A new approach that can be articulated into three overlapping circulation layers:

  • short: foot, bicycle;
  • medium: PRT for Personal Rapid Transit
  • long distance: subway and trains
Urban farm is now popular while some economists point out that integrating agriculture inside urban areas may do more harm than good to cities. Whatever it may be, apart from a green belt around city and the creation of green connections towards the city center, the Zielinski envision a Urban-Farm-Paris, to say a Paris that houses urban farms, "organized at the street level", on rooftops. Fruit trees will be planted on regained area.
Material diagram

The act of preserving requires the use of structural elements, existing materials… on condition that these materials must be sustainable to respond to the HQE. Materials will be raw materials like stone and rock, metal and timber; use of renewable plant materials like bamboo and straw, lumber from forests; stone, recycled stone, recycled metal, reusable, renewable, and recyclable materials.
Equity diagram

This design proposal reveals not only an orientation towards sustainability and smart technologies — the contrary would be surprising — but also the aim of the integration of population's specific needs — a better quality of life — as core elements to create an efficient Paris renegeration. Will this design proposal be taken into consideration, even partly? The question remains open… Be this design proposal realisable or not, it seems to me that the Zielinski's design proposal should be thought as problem-addressing in lieu of problem-solving. A way of doing with existing elements to shape a sustainable city…
Beauty diagram

Competition board 1
Competition Board 2

Source: archdaily

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