Parc André Citröen

15th arrondissement
Paris, France

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

A 35-acre park that is barely more hospitable than the car factory it replaced.

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Why It Doesn't Work

We are heartbroken when we see Parc André Citröen. It is located on a crucial waterfront site, yet it completely fails the surrounding residential neighborhood. We visited the park in different seasons to see how it is used, tallying five visits in total. On each occasion, we found it so indifferent to users' needs that we disliked spending any amount of time there.

The one feature that generates any sustained activity--an array of fountains spurting from a flat, paved surface--has a sign warning children not to play there. The sign is a fitting embodiment of the park's overriding message: "Look, but don't touch."

The entire periphery of the park is a series of fussy little design vignettes that fail to accommodate people's normal uses, such as sitting in groups or even just watching other people. Various theme gardens, follies, and grade-separated paths restrict the user experience to one monotonous act: looking at objects.

The entrances, playgrounds, seating, and activity areas are complete failures compared to Paris's better parks. Two of its features have some potential -- the major water feature and the lawn -- but currently they lack even the most basic supporting amenities, such as seating or picnic tables.

We never suggest that a park be torn up and redone, but we make an exception for this one. We are sure that this park is enormously expensive to maintain. In the long-run, replacing its fussiness in favor of simpler, usable spaces would be a cost-effective way to turn Parc André Citröen into the urban oasis it ought to be.

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