The PARC: nature settles in the perspective

The PARC: nature settles in the perspective

Transforming the Esplanade de La Défense into a 5-hectare urban park by increasing the amount of vegetation, transforming the ground, enlivening the spaces, while enhancing its heritage: this is the project of the Park. It is the result of the global vision of land development carried out by Paris La Défense as part of its raison d'être as the "first post-carbon business district in the world".

The park, designed by a group led by landscape architect Michel Desvigne, in conjunction with Paris La Défense, will transform the historic Esplanade, still relatively mineral, into an exceptional public space. Between the Agam and Takis basins, this green space in the heart of the area is destined to become a place of relaxation, passage and meetings. The Park reconfigures the physiognomy of Paris La Défense and offers a privileged place to nature while promoting biodiversity.

View of the future park of Paris La Défense © Paris La Défense & Michel Desvigne Paysagiste

Programmatic objectives of the Park

In addition to the objective of generously planting the esplanade, Paris La Défense is profoundly rethinking the historic axis by alternating squares and planted promenades to offer users an improved living or working environment and new recreational or sports uses. The Park project also aims to counteract heat islands and recreate natural soil in order to participate in the fight against global warming.

  • A NATURE Park: thanks to an increased vegetation work with flower gardens, copses, trees, lawns... A vast space where nature finds all its place.
  • A RESPONSIBLE Park: thanks to an ecological management of the site, the creation of islands of freshness, a greater permeability of the ground, a reinforced biodiversity, the planting of local species and a better accessibility for the people with reduced mobility... The project wants to be responsible, not only with regard to the environment, but also with regard to its public.
  • A CONVIVIAL Park: thanks to a succession of spaces and squares, with multiple uses and changing atmospheres, encouraging breaks, meetings, recreational or sports activities.
  • A LIVING PARK ON THE GROUND: thanks to an important work on the ground level, essential component of the project. The space under the slab will be filled in in some places and replaced by a new, more fertile soil.
  • A CONNECTED Park: thanks to new continuities and crossings, the Park will be calmer and will encourage exchanges between different user profiles. The Park will also open up more widely to the neighborhoods and cities of Courbevoie and Puteaux.

Site plan of the park

The future urban park of Paris La Défense will extend between the Agam and Takis basins.

The Park in figures

  • 5 hectares
  • 600 meters long
  • 450 plane and lime trees all preserved

The architectural concept and landscape intentions

In the perspective of the historical axis imagined by Le Nôtre, it responds to a first sequence of emblematic gardens, in the image of the Tuileries gardens. The structure of the park presents a regular order of great coherence, inspired by classical gardens. By alternating squares and planted promenades, the park will extend over a length of 600 meters.

The distribution and palettes of the plantings have been developed in close collaboration with ecologists in order to respond to the conditions of exposure (wind, sunshine), water constraints and soil thicknesses.

The project adds additional vegetation layers:

  • Small colorful shrubs: Japanese cherry, dogwood, apple, cotinus
  • A system of hedges composed of different species and colors: osmanthus, ilex, myrtle, honeysuckle
  • Flowerbeds and mostly local plants: iris, lilies, periwinkle, euphorbia, hemerocallis...
  • Lawns for lunch, leisure and relaxation

A fountain and pond system is being studied to animate and increase the comfort of the park during the summer. Successive water features and ponds will provide freshness, extending the narrative between the Agam and Takis fountains.

The arrival of the Park will enrich and diversify the fauna and flora present on the territory. New species (flowers, birds, insects) will blossom and nest in the shrubs, hedges and flowerbeds.

View towards the Esplanade Arch, before the project © 11h45

View towards the Esplanade Arch, tomorrow © Paris La Défense & Michel Desvigne Paysagiste

View towards Paris from the esplanade, before the project © 11h45

View towards Paris from the esplanade, tomorrow © Paris La Défense & Michel Desvigne Paysagiste

Provisional schedule

The landscape of Paris La Défense is very particular, with unique specificities, linked to its design on a slab associated with steep slopes. Designing a large park is therefore a technical challenge.

2021: studies conducted by the group led by Michel Desvigne Paysagiste 2022: Finalization of the park project 2024: start of construction 2026: Staggered delivery of the park

An experienced group at the service of the Park

The Michel Desvigne Paysagiste group, a team of engineers, architects, landscape architects, ecologists and urban planners, was chosen for its thorough understanding of the expectations of Paris La Défense. In addition, the group has numerous references in the development of gardens on slabs and emblematic public spaces (among the achievements: the Boulingrins garden in Monaco, the Otemachi district in Tokyo, the gardens of the Ministry of Culture and the Jussieu campus in Paris...).

The Michel Desvigne Paysagiste (MDP) agency benefits from the experience of its founder, a landscape architect, whose understanding of urban issues earned him the Grand Prix de l'Urbanisme in 2011.

The Arcadis design office is in charge of the technical project management for the Parc de La Défense project. Its skills in terms of structure, urban engineering and sanitation enable it to propose innovative solutions that meet the new technical challenges of the sustainable city.

Specialized in urban ecology, the Urban-Eco Scop company brings together several associates (agricultural engineer, ecologist technician...) driven by the desire to carry out sustainable landscape and ecological programs and projects. It therefore guarantees the ecological relevance of the Park project.

The Ville Ouverte team, which includes some thirty urban planners, architects, engineers and programmers, is an expert in public consultation and the deployment of uses.

Genesis of the project

The desire to green the Esplanade took root several years ago. The process of greening the neighborhood has seen the emergence, since 2016, of an initial experimental pre-programming phase, with an ephemeral perspective:

  • In 2017, the Place Basse was largely vegetated, becoming a place much appreciated by the public. In 2019, after a consultation engaged with residents to define what the future uses of the esplanade would be, this ambition was affirmed in a project to become the Park project.
  • In the fall of 2020, forest islands with wooden hammocks under the plane trees of the esplanade were installed.
  • In the spring of 2021, above-ground gardens will complete the decor. In concrete terms, 13 above-ground gardens have been created, in elegant wooden planters ranging from 80 to 168 m², with 45 plant species selected as part of this experiment, which is expected to last at least three years.

During these first stages, Paris La Défense was accompanied by experts in landscape and programming issues: Atelier Foïs and Botanica.
From then on, the choice was made to transform the esplanade to end up with an ambitious project of permanent transformation, the one imagined by Michel Desvigne.


Did you know that?

The esplanade was the subject of a first vegetation project, fifty years ago. In 1972, the American landscape designer Dan Kiley transformed the esplanade of La Défense into a garden. He was a member of a group of American landscape designers of the modern style, who revisited the classical gardens with, as markers of their landscape design, the rigor of the compositions as well as the beauty of the proportions and the layouts.