The city of Paris has approved MVRDV’s plan to renovate the Vandamme mixed-use block in the Montparnasse area of Paris, France.
The urban block was designed in the early 1970s by French architect Pierre Dufau.
According to the Netherlands-based architecture firm, the urban block was a landmark building at the time but failed to adapt to society’s changing needs.
MVRDV added that the building had become a self-contained block lacking urban connectivity, discouraging pedestrian activity and without any sense of identity.
The structure was designed with a clearly defined horizontal plinth interrupted by a slender, 30-storey tower of the Hotel Pullman.
It resembles a triangular urban island surrounded by the Rue Mouchotte, Avenue du Maine and the rail tracks to Gare Montparnasse opposite the site.
MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas said: "This project is a fantastic chance to insert a little bit of human scale into a megalomaniacal 1970s development in the very heart of Paris.
"We will bring order to the complex building, making it accessible from all sides and intensifying its use through a higher density of programme.
"On its façade, the building will display all of the activities that are going on inside. For this we have developed a catalogue of façade-elements that are exchangeable so that the entire ensemble can respond flexibly to changes in use over the coming years."
In order to add ‘lost human scale’ MVRDV plans to break the solid, horizontal volume into fragments and make the plinth look more extroverted.
Each façade will be opened up, while a collection of boxes will be inserted into the existing structure that will differ in size, programme, colour and material. The majority of boxes will be suspended from the façade to reveal the functions inside, such as bars, restaurants, shops, a library, exterior gardens, living and working spaces.
MVRDV also plans to improve accessibility at ground level by adding entrances on Avenue du Maine and Rue Mouchotte.
A shopping centre in the structure will be extended while the offices, which span the entire width of the plinth, will be replaced by a six-storey office block with accessible roof terraces.
Public library, Bibliothèque Vandamme, will be relocated to the top of the plinth for improved daylight and easier access to and from Gare Montparnasse station.
About 62 social housing units and a 500m² kindergarden are to be added to the plinth, between the hotel tower and the office block, Le Héron.
The southern plot boundary at Rue Vercingétorix will be upgraded by opening the back of the building, and 150 spaces will be added to the six-storey underground car park.
Unibail-Rodamco has commissioned the project and MVRDV will work in collaboration with local architect SRA, engineers SCYNA4, installation consultant LAFI + INEX, cost consultant VANGUARD, façade engineers RFR, acoustic consultant LASA and BATISS for fire safety.
Image: The Vandamme mixed-use block designed by Pierre Dufau. Photo courtesy of MVRDV.