SO-IL and Laisné Roussel have won the international competition for the Place Mazas site in Paris with their proposal, 'L'Atelier de l'Arsenal.' The competition was organized by the city of Paris as part of 'Reinventer La Seine,' a call for innovative proposals at the intersection of architecture, creative urbanism, and development on sites along the river.
Place Mazas is an important area for Paris, located at the end of the Bastille Axis and at the junction of the Canal Saint Martin and the Seine River. It's also a nexus of future urban development, including the upcoming waterfront park, Parc Rives de Seine. Considering this unique location, the design proposal integrates the site into the historical fabric of Paris while presenting a new, flexible urban strategy, creating the potential for further civic transformation.
"We are very excited to work on such a unique site in Paris," said Ilias Papageorgiou, Partner at SO-IL. "Our proposal suggests a dynamic approach in city making, one that considers history as well as the complexity of today's conditions while allowing room to accommodate future transformation."
The site is divided into two parts. The first is a seven-story volume that continues the historical Haussmanian axis and tops out just below its neighboring 19th century residential building. This volume includes a housing program in co-living typology, with several interior and exterior shared spaces for the residents as well as a public restaurant on the ground floor.
The second, located on the axis of Bastille, is dedicated to public activities. It maintains a lower profile, opening up views to the Seine River. This part of the site includes three new public squares, a lockhouse built in 1905 that is being repurposed, and a temporary pavilion that will host facilities like public co-working spaces, a fabrication lab, an event room, and an exterior terrace offering new views on the Arsenal Basin, the Seine River, and the surrounding city, as well as a facility for homeless care already established on site.
Sustainability is a driver of the project. The design represents a new relationship to the waterfront as Paris works to create a swimmable river in the near future. Included on the site are a public swimming pool as well as a pool for biodiversity research and water quality monitoring. The proposal's housing is constructed from locally sourced timber and its temporary pavilion features a dismountable structure made of renewable materials, facilitating urban growth while decreasing environmental impact.
"The design of the Atelier de L'Arsenal is motivated by our conviction that architecture is everyone's business," commented Nicolas Laisné and Dimitri Roussel, Partners at Laisné Roussel. "In our view, urban resilience and the collective practices developed for and by users are two major challenges for the cities of tomorrow."