The Landscape Guide

18.8 Parc de la Villette, Paris, as a real estate development project

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The development at Parc de la Villette shows how major landscaping can provide a prestige setting for important buildings. The Museum of Industry has a classy position on the edge of the park, just inside the Peripherique, with good car parking and convenient access to bus and metro stations. It would be difficult for any self-respecting developer to lose money on a site like this. But visitors to the Exhibition Halls are not so lucky. It is a long walk to get there and the building is surrounded by stiletto-busting granite sets. We went on a wet day and it wasn't half difficult to keep dry. There is a roofed path with a gimmicky crinkled roof, but it does not lead from the car parks to the building and is exposed to driving rain. A disappointing aspect of current development at Parc de la Villette is that all the best sites have been assigned to public buildings. Luckily, this could be corrected. There are many places where empty expanses of flat grass could be used for commercial developments and car lots. The paths within the park have been planned in a really arty manner -- though some might call it artless! Few paths lead from one place to another. We got lost several times, and I'm still not sure if we saw the whole park. Perhaps the circulation will work better when the park is complete.