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Image of Montorgueil street before the intervention


images  (5)



previous state

In 1989, Montorgueil, a mainly residential district in the centre of Paris, seemed doomed to an unstoppable process of deterioration caused by the deluge of cars and the commercial activities which were gradually taking over buildings. In the narrow streets, chaotic parking on the pavements, or in the middle of the road by lorries and vans, made it dangerous for residents to walk about and very difficult for vehicles to move. These mobility problems coupled with those of atmospheric pollution led to a decline in the district's population. As the residents left, the textile industry, which was looking for premises (for storage, etc.), moved in.

aim of the intervention

The basic aim of the Municipal Council was to restore the district's residential vocation and to improve the environment, thereby stabilising the population and limiting the growth of commercial activities. The solution adopted -the complete pedestrianisation of the district- met with the wholehearted approval of the residents: a public survey revealed that 80% of the people polled agreed with the project. For the first time, a large pedestrianised area was going to be created in a residential area in the centre of a big capital city. It was to be the continuation of its peripheral zones, such as Les Halles: an area with a distinct business character.


The solution involved the strict regulation of vehicular access by a television surveillance system which checks the entry points into the district. Retractile bollards are located at these points and only drivers with swipe cards (those with a parking place in the district) can gain access. Other cars need permission from the surveillance team. A time limit has been imposed for vehicles transporting goods.

The district is crossed by two arteries with a distinct personality -the Rue Montorgueil and the Rue St. Denis- and its great morphological coherence justified its treatment as a public space which, although not identical in every area, is consistent.

The project for reconquering the space was based on maintaining the traditional section of the street with pavements running along either side and a central roadway. One material was used for the whole surface (Carrara marble blocks), with the exception of the kerb which is made of granite and clearly marks the difference between the two parts of the street. The gutter was removed from the street surface and specific street furniture was designed to fit in with the project as a whole. Any other furniture which was considered useless was removed from the space.


The Montorgueil scheme stands out because it is a radical and unusual project. The most important effect of the pedestrianisation of the 2.4-kilometre stretch of streets has been the almost total disappearance of cars from the district and the substantial increase in pedestrians using the streets, particularly at weekends. There are still problems to be solved, such as the parking of residents' cars for which spaces have been planned in the surrounding areas. However, the residents feel it is a district which is pleasant to live in, although they believe that the effects of the scheme will become more apparent in the long term.

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Montorgueil street after the intervention

technical sheet

CITY: Paris (2,110,694 inhabitants)





AREA: 230,000 m2

COST: 21,342,900 €



Didier Drummond


François Faure