The city of Paris is famous for its obsession and its long tradition of designing its urban spaces, fact demonstrated from the large number of more than 450 designed public spaces (gardens, squares, parks, promenades etc.) included in its greater area. In the same time, many of the parisian gardens and parks seem to be heritage from its royal past or presents from previous presidents and mayors of the city and often tend to be ‘museumfied’.
An exceptional example between this plethora of designed urban spaces Paris has to offer is Jardins d’Éole. Designed in 2005 from Michel and Claire Corajoud and Georges Descombes as a “living space” or “space for life”, Jardins d’Éole distinguishes itself from the rest of the cases for several reasons; Firtsly, its location: Cour du Maroc (as the site’s name was before its redesign and rename to Jardins d’Éole), was a 4,2 hectars former rail yard stripe, placed near the center of the city between the 18th and the 19th arrondisement, in an interesting but complex urban area, between the built environment and the railway. The surrounding destrict is historically inhabited by a low-income, predominately immigrant, multicultural, underprivilleged and diverse community of users. The new park is a fruit of ten years of activism and environmental mobilization of its community ,represented by a neighborhood association, claiming the space as essential for the improvement of their everyday life conditions in the most dense area of Paris. Finally, the sucessful role of Jardins d’Éole as an inclusive urban space and interactive platform for its users, trying to reduce social and spatial inequalities make it an innovative examble of suastainable urban design.
History of the site
The 4,2 hectar site is located in north-east area of Paris , between the 18th and the 19th addordishment near the West station. It has the form of long stripe, limited by the railway to the east, Rue Riquet to the north, Rue d’Aubervilliers and Rue du Departement to the west and to the south.
The history of the site begins in 1849, when it started being used as storage yard for the rail line “Est-Ouest Liason Express”(EOLE), name that replaced the initial name “Cour du Maroc”, after the redesign of the area. In 19th century the area was an active and busy area by hosting the city’s slaughterhouse, being an entry point for goods coming from the periphery and also an welcoming point for passengers coming to the capital. Between the railways and the city’s infrastructure the developing of the residential areas was possible only in free left over space. Disconnected from the city center through the railways and an industrial canal, the area faced since that time air, noise and water pollution. Result was the developing of a low quality residential area, that in the 1950’s and when the massive urbanization of Paris started, hosted migrants from rural France, Italy, Spain and later from West Africa and Maghreb.