Gare du Nord, toward a modern and intelligent renovation of an urban space

A few numbers on the Gare du Nord, it’s:

  • the busiest train station in Europe with 700,000 daily passengers, and more than 210 million each year.
  • one of the least liked (It’s the 4th lowest rated in France, behind Rennes, Montpellier and Lisieux).

According to an Odoxa survey conducted for France Bleu Paris in January 2019, the Gare du Nord is perceived as dirty and unsafe. Not to mention the repeated train delays due to the switch problem, contact wires, obsolescence of materials and malicious acts.

This is why its renovation is so necessary. Required to be up and running for the 2024 Olympics, the final project was just presented publicly on May 14th.

Renovate to rehabilitate

Paris wants to transform the Gare du Nord to an urban complex (with merchants, rail and sports). The goal is to elevate it as an “architectural model of the 21st century” and to make it a masterpiece that will last for many years.

Annual meetings are to be scheduled for the implementation of the work:

  • Everything having to do with the re-routing of the tracks is planned for the first quarter of 2020 until 2022.
  • Construction (floors and roof) is planned for 2023.

 

 

 

 

Everything will be focused around the rehabilitation of the station’s landscape (exterior as well as interior) with only the following requirements:

  • To create visual separation between arrivals and departures in order to better manage the flow and to ease congestion in the station
  • To enlarge the transit areas

Objective in sight: tripling the size of the station.

Due to constraints imposed by the territory, the station can’t be extended in length or width, as it’s squeezed between the surrounding buildings.

Regardless, the Gare du Nord will reach upward! Indeed, the real estate company in charge of the project, Ceetrus, has chosen to add several floors.

 

How can the urban landscape be preserved?

The Gare du Nord already has a glass entry facade. The goal is to extend the glass over part of the roof. As such, natural light will fill the station from end to end. This will provide a return in terms of the environment and energy consumption if artificial light is not needed.

The other half will have a living roof. And yes! An entire park will be built on the roof so people can enjoy a natural and relaxing space in the middle of a resolutely urban environment.

The argument here hits the nail on the head. Indeed, happy to have green space available, residents have agreed to the roof covering 11,000 square meters.

 

Gare du Nord, driver of mobility

It’s a major smart city project that isn’t limited to just rail. Just as the term “station” can also refer to road networks, the project is intended to be a space for:

  • Providing entrances to bus lanes
  • Facilitating access from trains to the RATP road network

But Ceetrus isn’t stopping there. The company also envisions a giant bike park capable of accommodating 2,000 bikes. A win-win proposition for the city of Paris who can avoid its sidewalks jammed up with this type of individual transport equipment. For users, it’s the assurance of finding an accessible place to park their bikes and shorten commute times.

 

Taking the human element into account as part of the renovation

It’s about creating new features and integrating social elements for the traveling public. The creation of a welcome center for people on the streets and the construction of shower stalls are some of the more notable examples.

Ceetrus has also thought about tourists leaving for London or Brussels and plans to quadruple the shopping arcade. A larger duty-free space has already been designed for Eurostar passengers, and a co-working space will also be constructed as part of the landscape of this new complex.

The station is no longer just a place to pass through, but will become a place to live and work

 

This major project will cost no less than 600 million euros, but it will certainly help restore the station’s image. That’s really the whole challenge of this smart city project: to transform the Gare du Nord in order to build a true city inside a station.

To read: Public transportation: moving toward autonomous mobility