A viaduct in Paris
December 8, 2011
This post is not about the viaduc des arts and its promenade plantée which has been the object of a previous post. While Vancouver is thinking that destroying its viaduct structures is forward thinking, and some even suggest that this tabula rasa thinking is at the root of good urbanism…Paris is building more viaducts…
The Parisian Viaduct:
The “Avenue Pierre Mendès France” viaduct, built between 1995 and 2001 (general conception by Paul Andreu) is one of the most recent addition to the Paris grid, in the new “rive gauche” district. You will notice, that well proven urban concepts have been applied, be in the building form lining the viaduct, the rectitude of the street, or the streescape…One will eventually find the result to be more convincing that on Pacific Boulevard (Vancouver) of similar width, and that is eventually the reason why you see people in the median which has its own name:
- promenade Jules-Isaac
Which says enough of the objective filled by this avenue. Notice also how only one lane of general traffic per direction is offered, and how the bike lane is implemented in the median (in my opinion the best solution).
Under the viaduct
In this case, the required right of way has necessarily constrained the piles disposition, but it is in fact a general Parisian style piles disposition we find in most, if not all of the city metro viaducts which allow an exploitation of the underneath space in both direction (you can see, how advantageous it can be under Vancouver’s Cambie bridge South side)
Beside the viaduct (or almost)
It is the jardin Abbe Pierre, opened in 2009, which is supposed to filter StormWater before letting them running directly into the Seine river.
Elevated view point on park and garden has been a common feature of the “jardin à la française“, but the relatively new sunken garden trend offers some attractive features:
- It provides a sense of intimacy, by “removing” you of the rest of the city
- It tends to be away of the street noise propagation pathes
In the case of the abbé Pierre garden, the artificial elevation of the street provides a pretext for the sunken garden…It is a nature garden, designed to filter storm water, and feature a swamp, as well as an insectarium to support the eco-system.
The example also apply a rule of thumb.
- If a space under a structure is not usable, close it to the public!
The Vancouver viaducts
Thought the idea to treat the viaduct as a street is not new, and find some ground at the edge of the Dunsmuir and Georgia viaduct, as well as Granville Bridge: Paris could have still one thing or two to teach to Vancouver, especially when come to talk about viaducts on a bigger scale…
Lot of proposal have found inspiration in the promenade plantée (or the New York High Line) including the winning entry 71, in the recent Vancouver viaduct competition, but curiously enough, the unfortunate entry 109 was one of the only one, to consider the viaduct streetwise :
 entry 7titled “make it a street” mentioned the idea but more by raising the rest of the grid to the viaduct level