And finally… Colourful stacked boxes to front revamped Paris shopping centre

The city of Paris has granted planning approval to overhaul a 1970s shopping complex in Montparnasse.

Rotterdam-based MVRDV’s designs include adding a new facade of colourful stacked boxes to the existing centre.

The studio plans to renovate and extend Vandamme Nord to “reintroduce the lost human scale” and give the complex a new identity.

MVRDV plans to renovate the shopping centre, offices, hotel, library and underground car park, but also add housing, a nursery and a conference centre. The aim is to modernise the site, improving pedestrian connections.

“This project is a fantastic chance to insert a little bit of human scale into a megalomaniacal 1970s development in the very heart of Paris,” explained Winy Maas, one of the three founders of MVRDV.

“We will bring order to the complex building, making it accessible from all sides and intensifying its use through a higher density of programs.”

The existing shopping centre facade will be replaced with an assortment of glazed boxes, varying in shape, size, colour and material. MVRDV believes this will help to break down the massing of the building.

Fitting in with the existing structural frame, these boxes will present all of the building’s different uses, but are also designed to be flexible to suit a changing programme.

“On its facade the building will display all of the activities that are going on inside,” said Maas. “For this we have developed a catalogue of facade-elements that are exchangeable, so that the entire ensemble can respond flexibly to changes in use over the coming years.”

The retail offering will also be extended, with additional entrances created on Avenue du Maine to the east and Rue Mouchotte to the west.

Existing offices will be relocated into a six-storey block featuring planted roof terraces, while the Bibliothèque Vandamme library will be relocated from the basement to the top of the building’s plinth.

MVRDV will also create 62 social housing units and a 500-square-metre nursery.

Approximately 150 scooter parking spaces will be added within the six-storey underground car park.

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