Architects imagine the future of Paris' highways in new exhibition

The New Deal - part of the 'Les Routes du Futur du Grand Paris' exhibition shares ideas for how France's roads could look in 2050

The New Deal - Les Routes du Futur du Grand Paris’ - presents ideas for how smarter, cleaner transport could change highways and suburban streets for the better.
Carlo Ratti Associati
The New Deal - Les Routes du Futur du Grand Paris’ - presents ideas for how smarter, cleaner transport could change highways and suburban streets for the better.

A new exhibition is giving an insight into the future or roadways and how highways might look in 2050.

The ‘New Deal’, part of an exhibition in Paris, presents a set of ideas and concepts developed by a team of architects and innovators, showing how the city’s roadways can be transformed from urban and social barriers into flexible spaces for living and playing and more.

The New Deal has been created by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, as part of a curatorial team led by SEURA Architectes, alongside Jornet Llop Pastor Arquitectes, landscapers Anna Cervera and Marina Zahonero, and Leonard, VINCI Group’s foresight platform.

The concepts are based on research into future transport, including work done by Carlo Ratti’s MIT Senseable City Lab, and the potential impact of autonomous and connected vehicles, multi-modal interconnectivity and cleaner, more efficient transport.

The exhibition envisions how Paris’ highways might look like in 2050. By then, autonomous mobility and new technologies will have transformed the mobility landscape, allowing cities to completely rethink 20th-century road infrastructure, hopefully with positive social and environmental consequences.

The exhibition includes ideas for possible future uses of Paris’ famous ‘Peripherique’ ring road, a 35km road which separates the wealthy metropolitan centre from the more working class suburbs or ‘banlieues’.

One new concept for the Boulevard Peripherique is presented as 'Habiter Le Lateralité' ('Living Laterality'), where the current number of car lanes is more than halved, and the remaining space is converted into a reconfigurable playground.

In 'Habiter les Dessus' ('Living Above'), a series of green residential buildings are placed over the Peripherique almost like a set of inhabitable bridges, recomposing a historical fracture between the two Paris’: that of the historical city and that of the banlieues. The architects say that such changes are permitted by EVs and AVs, which could make roads cleaner, less polluted and safer.

The other visions on show are dedicated to three increasingly suburban highways in the Ile de France region, proposing new functions like energy production and farming. 'La voie monde' ('The street of the world') envisions how the gigantic A6 French highway can go from having 12 to four car lanes, using the central part for greenhouses or for a photovoltaic plant to generate solar energy while slashing heat production.

'Multimodalite Partout' ('Multimodality Everywhere') and 'La Voie Dynamique' ('The Dynamic Road') leverage on real-time mobility data to create new public spaces and allow commuters to get to their destination more efficiently.

“In the 20th century, urbanists made space for bigger roads and more cars. Today, we can leverage innovation in mobility to imagine creating a more seamless and inclusive city,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab.

This project continues CRA’s long-time interest in autonomous mobility. Recently, CRA’s master plan for an innovation district on the ex-site of the Expo Milano 2015 included streets and roads designed for a future of exclusively self-driving vehicles. CRA also collaborated with Google’s sister company Sidewalk Labs on the prototype of a flexible paving system allowing for a greater degree of flexibility in how a street is used at different moments of the day, currently being prototyped in Toronto.

The New Deal is part of the ‘Les Routes du Futur du Grand Paris’ exhibition, organized by the Forum Métropolitain du Grand Paris, taking place at the Pavilion de l’Arsenal until 31st August.

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