Parisians are hoping a new leaf-shaped ‘Canopée’ in the city centre’s Les Halles will wash away memories of the much-maligned 1970s structure it has replaced.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo lifted the veil yesterday on the shiny glass and metal undulating roof, designed by architects Patrick Berger and Jacques Anziutti, as well as the revamped cultural and retail hub underneath.
The addition is intended to undo some of the damage done by the destruction of an old 1850s iron and steel structure, which made way for an uninspiring subterranean commercial centre.
Hidalgo said the Canopy would revitalise Les Halles – described by author Emile Zola as ‘the belly of Paris’ in its heyday – as the ‘beating heart’ of the city.
Added deputy mayor Jean-Louis Missika: ‘Les Halles is entering the 21st century.’
As part of the redevelopment, the underground hub below the Canopy has been brightened and upgraded. It holds 6,000 sq m of cultural spaces, including rehearsal rooms, recording studios, media libraries and a cinema. There are also shops and restaurants – including chef Alain Ducasse’s latest venture – in the revamped Forum des Halles.
Construction for the €1 billion scheme began in 2011 and is expected to be fully completed in 2018. Work still remains to be done on the area’s pedestrian zones, a garden area and the train station complex, which is one of the largest in Europe.