All Images: © Yannick Gourvil et Cécile Leroux, collectif et alors
I've said it a lot recently, and it's only getting more true with time: when it comes to taking on climate change, Paris is kicking butt. With major plans to redesign its river banks, create a pedestrian paradise out of the Les Halles shopping mall, and improve the already great Vélib bike share system, the City of Lights isn't slowing down.
And now a new exhibit is having fun imagining what the City will look like in the year 2100: 2º C warmer, due to climate change, but also a whole lot greener, where pedestrians rule and every building has a roof garden.
The exhibit, which is the work of Yannick Gourvil and Cécile Leroux of the architecture firm Collectif et alors, is called "+2º: Paris s'invente!" Part of the City's Week of Sustainable Development (April 1-7), it was born of a simple idea: having acknowledged that the planet is getting warmer, how does Paris react? By tackling the problem head on, both by adjusting to a warmer climate and by taking measures to make sure things don't get any worse.
Gourvil and Leroux readily admit that the Paris they've imagined is a utopian one. Rather than a scientific prediction or policy to follow, they call it an "exploratory playground." They write:
In this reinvented Paris, the Seine becomes a place to live life, the roofs are made accessible, housing is adapted, Parisians reappropriate the streets once monopolized by cars, bikes are used in fast lanes, metro stations become places of open sky, farms are set up in the city...so many alternatives transform the City.
That means tons of public transportation and not a car in sight. Periodic flooding is accepted as a natural process, not something to fight with concrete. Canals are bordered by strips of marshland; when the Seine overtakes the streets, Parisians take to canoes.
The "+2º" exhibit, made up of 20 images (one for each of Paris' arrondissements), is wishful thinking, but in the best sense possible. It's utopianism based on optimism: if we start working now, this is the urban paradise we can pass down to our children. And while I don't think two more degrees or any public policy will change the City's pigeons into flamingos, it's not that unbelievable that if Paris stays on track, it will look something like this.
For more stories like this, follow Alex on Twitter.