The changing governance of public spaces around the Grand Paris Express’s new metro stations

chantier station Courneuve

Chantier Station Courneuve Six Routes Métro Paris – cco wikipedia commons

Megaprojects and their public spaces have often been criticized as sites of commodification and privatization. Without questioning these trends, a growing body of research affirms the contingent nature of projects, requiring in-depth empirical studies. This paper, written by Antoine Fleury, researcher and member of Géographie-cités laboratory, and Pedro Gomes, researcher at ESPI Group, focuses on the implementation of Grand Paris Express, a transport mega-project, from a public-space perspective.

The paper draws on the case of La Courneuve Six-Routes station to analyze the growing complexity of public space governance in Greater Paris. In so doing, it offers an additional contribution to the literature. The main driver of change in public space policies is interterritorial governance between local, metropolitan and national levels, not private actors. Moreover, the design principles and implementation processes do not provide for iconic, commodified and sanitized public spaces. However, in their current configuration, the politics of these public spaces remains ambivalent, because of the importance of real estate development in the network’s future implementation.

Our work also brings an important update to initial analysis of Grand Paris, which focused on iconic contributions of starchitects. Viewing the megaproject “from below” sheds light on the negotiations and arrangements with lower governance tiers that go into megaproject implementation. When it comes to public space, the GPE is not a display of state authoritarianism; the SGP [Société du Grand Paris] adopts a proactive and context-sensitive posture towards policy change rather than mounting displays of force.

Antoine Fleury & Pedro Gomes (2022): Public space and the metropolis. The changing governance of public spaces around the GrandParisExpress’s new metro stations, Urban Geography, Nov. 2022

Dr. Antoine Fleury is a Junior Researcher in urban geography at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). In his research he aims to highlight how public spaces are produced in European metropolises with regard to design, management, and control. In 2022, he also co-edited two books on public spaces.