A rejuvenation cure for the Corolles Reflets Iris district

The Reflets-Iris district in 2023 (c)Imica
  • Public spaces
  • Delivered

In short

Project owner: Paris La Défense
Urban design: Urbanica-SLG-EGIS-Concepto
Programming: requalification and creation of public spaces and green spaces
Start of construction: 2021
Delivery: 2023
Location: Esplanade Nord, Corolles-Reflets-Iris district (Courbevoie)

Location of the project area in green

Geographical references :
1 - Place des Corolles
2 - Place des Reflets
3 - Patio des Reflets
4 - Place de l'Iris

1. Introduction

Paris La Défense initiates and steers the renewal of Europe's leading business district. The Établissement Public Local is making La Défense a vibrant destination, with real neighbourhoods that are mixed, lively, planted with greenery and pleasant to live in. On the Courbevoie side, the renewal of the Corolles-Reflets-Iris sector follows on from the renovation of Place des Corolles and Place de l'Iris. In the area around the Aurore tower, public spaces have been redesigned to make them more pleasant and easier to understand.

In the Corolles-Reflets-Iris sector, Paris La Défense has conducted studies, in parallel with the work undertaken by Aermont on the Aurore Tower, to rethink the surrounding public spaces, and more broadly the entire district. In the continuity of the new development of Place de l'Iris, several objectives guided the reflection on this project, including the complete renovation and opening of the patio des Reflets, the creation of a qualitative perspective between Place de l'Iris and Place des Reflets, the simplification of pedestrian paths, the greening and embellishment of the public spaces of the district with contemporary materials.

The Reflets patio has been extensively redesigned to make it brighter, more pleasant and more open. A wider, more visible staircase and lifts providing access to the car park now allow people with reduced mobility to link the car park and the two levels of the slab.

The public spaces have been planted: a "plant lens" has been created in Place des Reflets and new planting, on the "hillside" and around "landscaped lounges", has been created between the Aurore and Manhattan towers in the space vacated by the new pavilion of the Aurore tower. Finally, light-coloured concrete slabs, light-coloured natural stone and wooden furniture will adorn the Place des Reflets and its patio. This project is part of Paris La Défense's strategy to become the first post-carbon business district by limiting its impact on the environment.

Traffic links between the slab and the Boulevard Circulaire will be improved. A wide staircase will link the allée Marvingt and the slab, between the base of the Pavillon Aurore and the Manhattan Tower, while a staircase and two lifts accessible to cycles will connect the allée Marvingt and the place des Reflets. Last but not least, soft mobility will be encouraged, with the installation of around fifty parking bays for cyclists in the public space.

The whole face of the Corolles-Reflets-Iris sector will change. With a renovated Place de l'Iris and its two new restaurants, a unified and comfortable floor, quality amenities, a health centre and a completely revamped Patio des Reflets, the district is getting a new lease of life.

The Reflets-Iris district in 2020 © Imica

2. Corolles-Reflets-Iris, yesterday and today

A progressive transformation of public spaces

As early as 2016, the Reflets terrace underwent a first phase of renovation, followed in 2018 by the transformation of the Iris square. On 6,000 sq.m., the light and contemporary coverings delicately highlighted extend the Saint-Gobain tower.

The renovation of the floors, the enlargement of the flowerbeds, the planting of additional trees (a total of 52 trees on Place de l'Iris) and the new commercial infrastructure designed by the Tolila + Gilliland agency prefigure the future face of the district.

This initial gradual metamorphosis was accompanied in 2018-2019 by a major renovation project for the warehouses. This "reclaiming" of the underground spaces has made it possible to optimise the functionalities of the district by reconfiguring the spaces dedicated to deliveries, taxis, drop-off points and waste management.

The renovation of the Reflets footbridge, which overhangs the ring road towards Courbevoie, went beyond a simple refurbishment. Signifying the new identity of the footbridges in the business district, this link is covered with new surfaces, illuminated tiles and night lighting. Glass desks and screens will be integrated into the railings.

A vision for the future: linking spaces and uses

The new face of Place de l'Iris alone establishes a new link with the different levels of the slab. It also links public and private spaces, employees and residents. Paris La Défense is continuing this transformation on the scale of the district, by bringing together spaces and functions that were previously separate. More specifically, this involves :

  • creating new urban and landscape perspectives,
  • linking the three levels by wide, open walkways,
  • reinforcing the commercial dimension of the Reflets patio.

The aim of transforming the public spaces is to achieve a better balance for working, living and enjoying life at La Défense. As designer and developer, Paris La Défense is continuing the process begun in the Groues, Croissant and Rose de Cherbourg sectors, which are destined to become living spaces in their own right.

This approach includes planting public spaces and improving access to the other sectors of the business district (Esplanade de La Défense, Cœur Défense, Saisons, etc.) and the town of Courbevoie.

The patio in 2021 © Paris La Défense leblueduck - Florence Delaby

In 2023, an open patio and a new monumental staircase to link the levels © Imica (non contractual image)

3. Today, a greener and more sustainable neighbourhood

The redevelopment of the Corolles-Reflets-Iris neighbourhood has restored continuity:

  • visual continuity, with the removal of the most prominent obstacles,
  • continuity of paths, with more legible and more open routes
  • continuity of surfaces, with a harmonisation of materials, textures, colours, surface effects and the natural character of the floors.

More natural floors

To make it easier to find one's way around a sector that has long been marked by a wide variety of materials and obstacles, the replacement of the flooring of public spaces is intended to be sober and as natural as possible. It will be consistent with the renewal of the district.

In order to limit the "patchwork" effect of the different levels of slab, limestone (Reflets level) and architectural concrete (Place de l'Iris), both in light tones, have been favoured for the redevelopment project. Bluestone was used to emphasise the green spaces that have been created or redeveloped, while granite was used around the D2 tower, in line with the existing landscaping of the allée Marvingt.

A green lounge

On the patio des reflets, below the Vision 80 residence and close to the Aurore tower, a turfed dome with large trees will interact with the planters further north, forming a "green lens" decorated with grasses, ferns and perennials. Prunus, Magnolias and field maples will respond generously to the contemporary look of the new grounds. They will be surrounded by African sage, sweet woodruff, climbing ivy and green Santolinium. The flowerbeds will be crossed by paved paths.

In addition to the 51 trees in Place de l'Iris, other landscaping features will be added to the existing plant network. Between the Manhattan tower and the "lantern" pavilion of the Aurore tower, a number of landscaped lounges have been laid out for recreation. In front of the Manhattan Square residence, the planting has also been redesigned to provide greater plant diversity.

In 2023, landscaped lounges and "hillside" planting at the foot of the Aurore and Manhattan towers © Imica (non contractual image)

4. A more mixed, functional and reconnected neighbourhood

The real estate programmes of the Corolles-Reflets-Iris district have launched the signal for a complete rehabilitation of public spaces. Far from signing a project ex-nihilo, the multiplicity of interventions takes advantage of the existing, enhances the identity of the district and puts its assets back in the spotlight. At La Défense, diversity has been invented for over 40 years.

A reaffirmed vocation

With the recent real estate programmes (D2, Saint-Gobain...), the transformation of the Europe base and the rehabilitation of Aurore, the Corolles-Reflets-Iris district reinforces the presence of tertiary activities which remain the DNA of La Défense. The arrival of companies of all sizes is the result of the comfort of the collaborative spaces as well as the development of a new offer of services around sports, catering and well-being.

After several years of waiting, the "return" of employees is combined with the maintenance of a strong residential presence. This mixed use has defined the Corolles-Reflets-Iris district from the outset. It has now been reactivated by the project to modernise the public spaces supported by Paris La Défense. The renovated public spaces offer a much higher quality of use, in particular by encouraging people to take breaks and relax.

This transformation involves renewing the surfaces, street furniture and landscaping, as well as more structural operations, including :

  • the removal of sections of paving slabs that represented visual and physical obstacles
  • the construction of a new staircase between Place Reflets and Place Iris, simplifying pedestrian routes
  • improving connections with the ring road by creating new links

New shops and services

At the foot of the Vision 80 residence, the former Buref shopping center located in the Reflets warehouse will house, since 2022, a medical center designed by Hélène Fricout-Cassignol Architects. An extension of Paris La Défense's strategy for the reallocation of volumes under the slab, this place, which is open to all, offers, over approximately 1,000 m² :

  • a health center linked to the Foch Hospital in Suresnes
  • an imaging center,
    1. a pharmacy.

On the Iris side, the wooden "commercial shell". Designed by Tolila + Gilliland Atelier Architecture, it houses two restaurant chains: La Famille and Spok. A terrace overlooking the new plantings enlivens the square.

Nearby, the concrete kiosk at the Iris car park is sporting a new, modern cladding to blend in better with its surroundings. Opposite, on the north side, the new brasserie in the new "lantern" pavilion of the Aurore tower will be open to all.

The shops on the Reflets patio will be able to assert themselves and become a new destination for employees and residents alike. Open onto the Place des Reflets and visible from the Place de l'Iris, they now have a new appeal.

Better circulation in the district

The staircase linking the Reflets and Iris levels will contribute directly to the commercial dynamism of the Reflets patio. Backed by a lift kiosk, it will make the patio easy to find, reach and navigate.

The staircase planned between the Aurore and Manhattan towers is an additional link that will remove the barrier effect of the business district slab and open up the Iris level to the ring road.

Near Tower D2, a new staircase will lead to the allée Marvingt. Complete with two lifts accessible to bicycles, this new access will complement the Reflets footbridge, which will be modernised in 2020 and will provide bicycles with an easy link between the La Défense slab and the town of Courbevoie, towards the boulevard circulaire and the rue de Strasbourg.

In 2021, the perspective towards the patio is obstructed © Paris La Défense leblueduck Florence Delaby

In 2023, the perspective will be cleared towards the patio, and landscaped lounges will replace the slabs at the foot of the Manhattan Tower © Imica (non contractual image)