This project entitled “The Legend of Grand Paris, or How Paris Became Great” was realized by STAR – strategies + architecture and BOARD as the second part of an ongoing research for the AIGP – Atelier International du Grand Paris, in the framework of «Systèmes Métropolitains». It was presented and delivered in September 2013. The project tells the story of how Paris became greater. It is the first legend of the Grand Paris territory, in which Paris had to die to save Grand Paris.

Paris’ mother dreamt that she gave birth to a burning torch

Prologue: The Myth of ‘Paris’

The Greek myth of Paris tells us that: Just before the birth of Paris, his mother dreamt that she gave birth to a burning torch. This dream was interpreted as a prophecy of the fall of the city. The child would become the ruin of his homeland and therefore had to be killed to save the kingdom.

Paris’ father was incapable of killing his son

The Myth continues that the father of Paris, incapable of killing his son, entrusted the mission to his preacher, who instead abandoned Paris on Mount Ida hoping that he would die there.

But astonishingly enough – Paris did not die.

Paris was founded on one of the islands in the river Seine

The history of the island
Paris began as an island. It was founded on one of the islands in the river Seine: the ‘Île de la Cité’. The river offered protection against invasion and occupation.

Paris chose to be an island.

Paris surrounded by water

More than two thousand years after its foundation Paris was still an island; an island surrounded by imaginary water – imaginary for us, the readers, but very real for the 2.2 million islanders.

The islanders created a very sophisticated high-security mechanism

The Parisians learnt at school that, in the past, the islanders had created a very sophisticated high-security mechanism to keep the island safe: the ‘Périphérique’- a double ring measuring 35 km in length and 370 m in width. Every day, the city’s safety was guaranteed by 1 million ‘guardians’. These ‘guardians’ were thought to be the Parisian army defending against external attacks: an army of 1 million soldiers. This extraordinary service was the reason for the very high level of prices on the island.

Approaching Paris

The islanders did not mind to pay these because they felt safe and lucky to live in Paris…

…the entire legend can be watched here:

Title: The Legend of Grand Paris, or How Paris Became Great
Project: Research project for the city of Paris
Date: September 2013
Type: Commissioned research
Location: Paris
Programme: Urban research
Status: On-going
Client: Atelier International du Grand Paris (AIGP)
Publications: Systèmes Métropolitains du Grand Paris by Archibooks
Team: Bernd Upmeyer, Marcis Kalnins, Veronica Kuna (BOARD); Beatriz Ramo, Julie Pommier, Rodrigue Lombard, Andrea Stanghini, Fleur Samé (STAR strategies + architecture)