After the long battles between Paris police and the gilets jaunes hoping to overthrow President Emmanuel Macron and replace democracy in France, riots that made the seizing of the U.S. Capitol Building look tame by comparison, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo as announced in the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that the work would begin to transform the 1.9 km (1.2 mile) Parisian avenue into “an extraordinary garden”.
Since 2018, Philippe Chiambaretta and his firm PCA-Stream have worked with local community leaders and businesses and new organization to draw up designs for the transformation of what is often referred to as “the world’s most beautiful avenue”.
The planned work was first unveiled in 2019 when Chiambaretta with the help of the public made his first plans for the area and his first concepts were drawn up.
Chiambaretta wants to transform the Champs-Elysées, which connects the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde, into a large urban green space for pedestrians.
Currently, the boulevard looks worn and tattered after many years of riots with its eight car lanes, around which 3,000 cars driving through every hour and 300,000 people visit every day. Over 68 percent of the visitors are tourists.
The Paris government is hoping the changes will make the legendary street more attractive to locals. PCA-Stream says that Parisians “reject” the Champs-Elysées, due to factors including too much consumption, noise, pollution, tourism, and traffic.
Chiambaretta envisions a plan to reduce that to four traffic lanes, and turn the rest of the road into wider sidewalks, green spaces, playgrounds, food kiosks, and “planted living rooms.”
Ultimately his plan would turn the traffic roundabout into a public plaza, called the Étoile promenade.
This includes reducing space for vehicles by half, pedestrianizing roads and increasing the number of trees planted to help improve air quality.
Chiambaretta’s transformation will be carried out in stages, beginning with the redevelopment of the Place de la Concorde square at the south-east end of the avenue. This is set to be completed by the time that the city hosts the Olympic Games in 2024; the rest of the avenue is expected to be renovated by 2030.
Jean-Noël Reinhardt, the president of the Champs-Élysées committee, stated that the announcement was a “great victory” for Parisians and that the renovation would be a flagship project for the 2020s.
The Champs-Élysées was first laid out in 1670, but was redesigned by Baron Haussmann in the mid-1800s and was last renovated 25 years ago.
Architects: Philippe Chiambaretta/ PCA-Stream
Client: City of Paris