It is far from being an urban planner’s secret. People have come to know that neighbourhoods’ vibrancy in cities depend largely on the mixed uses and subsequent diversity found on their streets. Laid out at the end of the most prestigious urban perspective on earth, seen from Le Louvre, across the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and the Avenue de la Grande Armée and right through Neuilly-sur-Seine, larger Paris La Défense business district could be considered, to say the least, well connected. Despite displaying some of the most iconic architectural designs of the last thirty years, the place is cold, unattractive. Host to 180 000 employees during the day, it can claim only 25 000 residents. Some more « Live » may make the neighbourhood somehow more « Play »-compliant.
Port-Louis can already claim some elegantly designed office towers, it may tomorrow legitimately pride itself of some really iconic developments. But that will not bring back life - and specially afternoon and evening life - to the central business district and the various service facilities in its vicinity. One can easily sense that 246 Edith Cavell will make good business; the design is charming, it will attract millennials, Caudan Arts Centre’s patrons, other Port-Louis Happy Hours’ clientèle. But at some point, these customers will drive home. The promoters did not foresee the interest of setting this offer amidst a network of apartments.
On La Chaussée and Edith Cavell, alongside MCB and Cassam’s legacy stone buildings, will a promoter envisage the habitat equivalent of the lifestyle facility across the street ? Who will lead us from bland La Défense to warm Montparnasse or St-Michel. With warmly lit four-storey populated liveable appartments above business floors.