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Urbania, first act

Alexia Moulin

As climate change is impacting more and more our ecosystems and climates, the need for sustainable solutions to adapt to those changes is growing rapidly.
The place de l’Opéra in the city of Paris, France, is a good example of this need. The place is in the less planted area of the metropolis and has set the record for the highest measured ground temperature in Paris in summer 2022 with 55.9°C recorded. At the same time, the place is suffering from important traffic jams due to its shape acting as a choke point of the various roads leading to it.
The place is filled with history as the Palais Garnier and the haussmannian architecture remind us while being well connected to its surroundings via metro lines and buses. But at the same time, the Urban Heat Island effect in summer and the important traffic make it unsafe to come across both physically and emotionally.

In order to change the place and make it livable and enjoyable again, a plan to redirect individual cars and create a green infrastructure was designed.
The green infrastructure takes the form of a park thought as a tiny forest that comes from the Place de l’Opéra and dilute itself in the urban fabric through the streets coming from it. The existing asphalt is partially teared off to allow the vegetation to grow while conserving some asphalt to design smaller roads and walkways through it.
The car flow is to be diluted in the adjacent streets that are currently under-used to allow only buses, bikes and emergency vehicles to take the remaining roads.
The vegetation of the tiny forest consists in different layers of selected species in order to create a self-sustaining ecosystem adapted to the Parisian climate, current and future.

The different trees and shrubs species are selected based on their geographic proximity to the site and their resistance to dry and hot weather while being able to withstand a relatively fresh winter (around 0 to 5°C). Their compatibility to an urban environment (strength of the roots, resistance to pollution) is also assessed. A few exotic species are used nonetheless for their qualities and the already existing population in Paris.

The species to be planted in the project area are :

• Acer campestre
• Acer monspessulanum
• Betula prepubescens
• Buxus sempervirens
• Celtis australis
• Corylus avellana
• Crataegus azarolus
• Fraxinus ornus
• Gleditsia inermis
• Laurus nobilis
• Quercus ilex
• Quercus pubescens
• Rosa canina
• Rosmarinus officinalis
• Salix alba
• Sorbus aria
• Syringa vulgaris
• Ulmus alata
• Zelkova serrata

The redesign of the place, the creation of a tiny forest, a new ecosystem in the heart of Paris, gives birth to Urbania. The urban utopia, the realistic dream for a sustainable future.
This urban utopia, aims to reduce the temperatures it lands in. It aims to give vegetation a way to retake the space while benefiting to humans. It aims to push sustainable mobility to recreate a link to the city, slowing the infernal pace at least a little.

But more than anything, it aims to be a first step, a first act towards the future.

This is the first act of Urbania, in which we dream sustainability, and plan for nature.

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