One of Europe’s most densely built cities, Paris still needs thousands of new homes. As a result, attention turns to previously neglected land, notably the areas cut off from the rest of the city by industrial facilities and infrastructural networks. In 2001, the Council of Paris included a number of such enclaves in its Grand Urban Renewal Project.
The 200-hectare Paris Nord-Est sector was a mix of transport arteries, logistics and industrial premises with social housing and a few public facilities. The Macdonald Warehouse, Paris’s longest logistics building designed by Marcel Forest in 1970, was among the ‘urban barriers’ that caused the area’s isolation. The moment it was put up for sale in 2006, the city teamed up with the Caisse des Dépôts, its historic partner for investments in public interest projects, to repurpose the warehouse into a micro-urban complex with 1126 homes, as well as offices, schools, and retail stores gathered on 210.000 square metres.
“The scheme has a direct influence on the entire area; it enables everything that is happening in the neighbourhood”, says Camille Picard, the Managing Director of ParisNordEST at the Caisse des Dépôts, the company in charge of the project. “Without it, the construction of a new development zone across the street wouldn’t have started as they would struggle to sell flats and offices looking out on a warehouse.”