Benthem Crouwel Coverstories

Car-beating Comfort

Architect Daniel Jongtien on the social side of extending the Paris metro

Metro Line 18 (in development), Paris

“No transit, no city. Good public transport not only connects the city and makes people feel part of something larger, it reduces inequality and creates social cohesion.

After building many stations around the Netherlands, we wanted to take our expertise further afield. We're now working on four of the 68 new metro stations planned for the outskirts of Paris, which is expanding with dozens of new towns as the old city has reached its limits. Having learnt from its mistakes with the ‘banlieues’, which exacerbated social inequality, the French government are eager to make this expansion inclusive.

We knew that these stations had to function so well that they feel more pleasant and convenient than taking the car, and make people want to use them every day. You don't force transit onto people, they choose to use it because they want to. The way to do this, we believe, is to get the principles right from the beginning, even if that takes long negotiations with the various stakeholders over regulations and other obstacles.

One of these principles is getting people flow right.

“We hope these stations will play a role in reducing the differences between groups in society.”

—Daniel Jongtien, partner since 2017

We thought it should be easy to orient yourself by following daylight. As you go in, you see the light coming from the platforms, and you go towards that. On the way back, on the mezzanine level, you instinctively go towards the exits because that's where the light is streaming in.

Likewise, we designed the paths from the ticket barrier like funnels, with sober design details, to encourage people to move through, whereas the platforms are designed to be light, calm and peaceful so that people feel relaxed and at ease waiting for a while.

Finally, the design of these three stations and the viaduct that runs between them is intended to create a sense of cohesion and make them feel like an extension of Paris, though each station will be deliberately unique to give each a sense of place and identity.”

Metro Line 18 (in development), Paris

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