Over 133 acres of land directly around the most internationally recognizable landmark in Paris will soon get a makeover, transforming the visitor experience just in time for the city to host the 2024 Olympic Games. British firm Gustafson Porter + Bowman has been selected to transform the landscape around the Eiffel Tower in a scheme called OnE | (One Line), which aims to create both the largest public garden in Paris and a sense of continuity with other local monuments.
30 million people visit the Eiffel Tower each and every year, but things like impaired accessibility, a lack of services, congested gardens, and overcrowding make the experience decidedly less magical than it could be. The City of Paris set out to eliminate these problems with the Site Tour Eiffel Competition, launched in 2018.
Gustafson Porter + Bowman beat out entries from Carlo Ratti Associati, Amanda Levete, Agence Ter, and other notable names in landscape design with their vision for a green corridor stretching from the Palais de Chaillot at the Place du Trocadéro to the École Militaire at the Place Joffre, bringing structured paths, vegetation, and pools to this major tourist artery.
The new design also straddles the river Seine, ushering visitors through an array of traditional French gardens, places for hosting temporary events like musical performances, and sculptural exhibitions.
The architects explain: “Along this central green axis, a series of reimagined landscapes interlock: at the Place du Trocadéro, an amphitheater of greenery restores space to pedestrians; a new and enlivened public space unfolds from the Varsovie Fountains towards the Pond d’léna; the bridge is reincarnated as a green promenade towards the gardens of the Eiffel Tower; the forecourt of the Eiffel Tower caters to the crowds with additional services and facilities discreetly hidden amongst the trees; and the raised lawns of the Champ de Mars protect and elevate the landscape.”
“OnE also creates spaces of pleasure and contemplation that punctuate the length of the site and serve to prioritize the human scale. New perspectives are framed and staged, rebalancing the gravitational pull of the Eiffel Tower and activating a sense of arrival throughout. The OnE proposal establishes a coherent and refined hierarchy of uses across the site, improving pedestrian accessibility and city circulation.”
The designers hope to unite the elegance and baroque detail of traditional French landscapes with experimental modern sensibilities. Terraced seating, playgrounds, bicycle paths, restaurants, information kiosks, and modernization of the area’s heritage lighting are also included in the plans. The pedestrianization of the bridge is a particularly nice touch, with lanes kept open for both public transportation and emergency vehicles.
After the loss of much of the Notre Dame Cathedral to fire, it may hearten admirers of the Eiffel Tower to hear that the iconic landmark will stay untouched itself, remaining exactly as it always has other than the land around its base.
The greening of the Eiffel Tower corridor represents just one facet of Paris’ plan to host the most sustainable Olympic Games in history. This first phase of redevelopment is set to be completed by 2023.