The XXXIII Olympic Summer Games are slated to bring another vibrant dimension to Paris in 2024, and the city is already abuzz with new developments. It comes as a push to modernize the city, taking the spirit of the capital’s time-honored, classic aesthetic, and combining with an emphasis on sustainability to make Paris more of a green city. And we’re here to take a look at what’s to come for the City of Light.
Plans to expand the city’s eco-conscious footprint are best exemplified by local firm PCA-Stream’s 2030 vision for the storied Avenue des Champs-Élysées. First laid out in the 17th century as the Grand Cours by Louis XIV’s gardener André Le Nôtre, the luxury boutique-lined boulevard pulsates with tourists, yet locals tend to stay away. It is a far cry from the promenade’s more glorious days, where it once served as the backdrop for world fairs.
“We want to give back the Champs-Élysées to the citizens of Paris and the Île-de-France. The world is collectively experiencing a crisis that makes the environmental emergency more visible than ever and has given rise to an unprecedented need for nature in urban areas,” says PCA-Stream architect and founder Philippe Chiambaretta.
To achieve this, Chiambarette aims to scale back the eight lanes of traffic, install low-noise road surfacing and weave in chef-run kiosks and wellness amenities. By turning it into a strollable garden of newly planted trees and shady, verdant “lounges,” the avenue has the chance to once again be a community hub that symbolizes a “sustainable, desirable, and inclusive city.”
With a pledge to make history as the first climate-positive Olympic Games, 95 percent of the venues for the two-and-a-half-week spectacle featured in the masterplan hatched by architecture and engineering firms Populous and Egis are either pre-existing or temporary. One of the few new-construction projects is the glass wall-flanked Aquatics Centre in Saint-Denis by Ateliers 2/3/4 and Amsterdam firm VenhoevenCS.
“After the Games, the building will remain a center for various sporting events and serve as an important catalyst to improve the neighborhood,” says Ateliers 2/3/4 architect Laure Mériaud.
To encourage biodiversity, 100 trees will be planted on the Aquatic Centre’s grounds, while inside spectators will sit on recycled plastic chairs sourced from local schools. But the star is the rippling roof sculpted out of wood. Selected for the material’s low carbon emissions, it protectively swoops down from the stands over the modular pool.
“The design is inspired by nature. Like a leaf, the roof combines several functions in a single form: sheltering, filtering light, collecting rainwater, integrating technical networks, and capturing the sun to transform it into vital energy,” says Cécilia Gross, architect partner-director at VenhoevenCS.
Underscoring this mission is Edison Lite, a housing complex in the 13th arrondissement unveiled last year by local firm Manuelle Gautrand Architecture. A winner of the Réinventer Paris competition’s call for innovative urban projects, it combines concrete, timber, and metal and is enlivened by 290 large planters adorning the façade’s windows.
Tenants personally weighed in on the design brief and moved into fully landscaped units based on a philosophy of edible permaculture fostered by the plots of land parceled out to each of them in the more than 1,600-square-foot roof garden. It is one of several communal spaces, including a workshop and alfresco kitchen, that serve as an ecosystem, infusing Edison Lite “with real community spirit,” says founder and principal architect Manuelle Gautrand. “They crystallize the residents’ aspirations [and are] able to provide that which an apartment building usually cannot.”
Hospitality development is also a boon for the French city as new hotels flaunt a vivacious and timeless style. In 2020, Sofitel Le Scribe Paris Opéra reopened after a two-year renovation led by local studio Atelier Tristan Auer/Wilson Associates. Set in a mid-19th-century building, it marries the feel of a regal gentlemen’s club with ornate apartment vibes through the likes of terrazzo, bas-reliefs, fabric headboards, and ceilings that recall Marc Chagall.
Part of the city’s Les Hôtels Monsieur collection, Monsieur George Hôtel & Spa, near the Champs-Élysées, also made its debut last year, sporting interiors by London-based Anouska Hempel. A palette of dark green—velvet seating piled high with silk cushions, grosgrain ribbon running along the walls, marble tables, and the designer’s own yardstick lamps—“is a throwback to the feel of a sensuous oasis in Marrakech,” Hempel says.
The Kimpton St Honoré Paris, by local architect Charles Zana, will also land soon, housed in a former luxury department store with rooms done up in an Art Deco 1930s style. Struck by the romance, art, design, and food of the city, Allison Reid, the brand’s chief development officer, says “there was no question that our first property in France would be in Paris. There is absolute magic in the City of Light.”
Another version of this article previously appeared in Hospitality Design.