Clichy-Batignolles, Paris, MLK Park

The urban redevelopment scheme in the Clichy neighbourhood of central Paris is centre around Martin Luther King Park. It is 10ha. and has 14 access points from the surrounding ring of developments.

The park is divided into two major portions separated by a at-grade double track railway line (unused on a daily basis, but kept for civil defense, war, and emergency uses) which is crossable, within the park, at only one point, and as we will see, rather awkwardly at that. (in the picture below, the track runs left-right 2/3 of the way up the model of the park, the pavillion to cross the tracks is to the right side):

The park is divided into four thematic areas, Winter, Summer, Spring, and Fall. Considerable effort went into inviting the existing neighbourhoods to the east to have easy access to the park. Note the finger of green extending to the right about half way up the park.

As befits a climate-change-conscious park design with complex low carbon targets and other social objectives, the park reuses some old railway sheds (brown roofs)  and has a conspicuous windmill (to circulate pond water) and solar panels.

I was very impressed by the park “on the ground”. Bits of old railway track emerge through the greenery and pavings. There are varied elevations and a willingness to create hidden or secreted spaces.

There were stonedust and paved pathways. Rainwater is collected in shallow metal troughs that lead to very shallow ponds:

Some pathways were broad and straight with a feeling of openness. Others were narrow – some very narrow, not much more than rabbit trails –with curves creating a sense of mystery and surprise to find little clearings:

Bits of railway memorabilia:

Play structures for all ages:

and numerous mounds and hills built up over what I presume to be a broad parking deck:

(in the above photo, the path is flat/horizontal, the trees are planted on sawtooth hills – to get enough soil for roots over the garage below – of great attraction to joggers, dogs,  and kids, ergo wire fences everywhere to prevent that…note the worn out compacted soil on the second and third sawtooth where the fencing was broken off.)

Part way up the park, it is transsected by two railway tracks. There is a concrete building that “bridges” the track, it requires a steep climb of stairs on each side of the platform (no ramps) and one very small elevator – no bikes, no large strollers – on each side. There was a pavillion on the elevated deck, but unused/closed. These pic were taken from the deck:

The sport playing fields (below) were closed with very dead vegetation. Lack of irrigation? The tall light towers were very repulsive, made the place look like a prisoner camp.

Sun loungers to encourage folks to lie around …

The ponds were very shallow, maybe 18″, lined with membrane. Nonetheless there were ducks. The vegetation is in underwater planters.


The fog season:

There was one cluster of two automat toilets, their modern design concealed in a frontier cabin exterior:

There was a section with a more traditional Parisian stonedust pathway:

They were not afraid of large benches that encouraged lying down. There were no fake “armrests” to separate “seats” and to prevent sprawling:

The contrast to Ottawa’s fear of someone actually using a bench couldn’t have been more apparent. The solution to folks sprawling … make the benches longer, install more of them …

A distinct hill was placed in a central area. It had an official entrance ramp, but desire lines soon fixed that !  The hilltop was sufficiently high to discourage ambling up it, but I did anyway, to discover the summit was pot heaven.

A huge portion of the central park was unfinished. It had been used as a cement plant and staging area for the surrounding buildings. It is due to be finished in 2019:

Martin Luther King park is one of the largest in Paris (10 hectares). I was there on a sunny Friday in mid-September, 2018. School was “in”. The park was pleasantly busy with a large variety of users. There were seniors bocce-ing and walking. Lots of joggers and runners, especially around noon. Parents going in and out of nearby daycares and schools that usually had one side adjacent the park. College students in school uniforms out for a smoke. A very few streetpeople (note park hours on sign below). Over on the east border with the traditional, older Clichy neighbourhood, there was a steady stream of people crossing the street aiming for the park or back to home/work. It seemed to work well as a “magnet” feature. The sidewalk cafes on the “old” side of the street were leftover downmarket in appearance, the cafes in the new Clichy-Batignolles buildings were modern, trendy, more expensive, and had some office workers sitting outside a bit like we imagine traditional Paris. I bought my lunch in a small grocery store on site and sat on a bench.




coming soon: their tram, the palais justice, and east side of the project (which is complete longer, the vegetation has grown, and a better assessment of the area can be drawn …)


2 thoughts on “Clichy-Batignolles, Paris, MLK Park

  1. Reminds me of the path along the Trillium Line from Carling to the Ottawa River. I hope some elements of this appear in the new development planned for the east side of that path.

  2. I like the idea of using the tops of parking garages as green spaces. Something that Ottawa should insist on as Lebreton gets (over)developed.

Comments are closed.