Paris to triple size of gloomy Gare du Nord and “emulate St Pancras”

France’s rail operator SNCF has unveiled plans to triple the size of Paris’ Gare du Nord station in time for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Ambitious plans include a glassed-in street to introduce light, and a rooftop sports complex – even a golf course.

The project, carried out in partnership with developer Ceetrus and architect Denis Valode of Valode et Pistre, will be the largest refurbishment of the station since it was built in 1864.

When complete it should increase the capacity of Europe’s largest station from 700,000 to 800,000 people a day.

Ceetrus and SNCF will form a joint venture for the project, with the former to own 66% of the completed station and the latter 34%.

Vianney Mulliez, the president of Ceetrus, commented in a press statement that the plan aimed to take into acount "all tomorrow’s urban issues", including the need reconnect the station with the city, prepare it for changes in commerce and trade, and make it more than a place that people pass through.

Guillaume Pepy, his counterpart at SNCF, said the project would emulate London St Pancras station, to which it is linked by Eurostar.

This will include an enlarged departure hall, increasing from 15,000 sq m to more than 37,000 sq m, and will feature a gallery 18m high and 300m wide. There will also be an extended Eurostar terminal, accessibility improvements and a new station front on the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis.

The aim is to lighten the station’s gloomy interior and help regenerate the rundown neighbourhood

As part of the deal, Ceetrus and SNCF’s Stations and Connections subsidiary will operate the Gare du Nord for a period of 35 to 46 years.

Valode et Pistre comments on its website that its aim is to turn the station into an "urban complex" with a single entrance, fronted by a forecourt, east of the existing station.

The somewhat gloomy interior will be lightened with an internal street covered by a glass roof, which Valode says will create a "path of light" to guides users through the building.

The new design is also intended to make the station a destination in its own right, thanks to an improved retail, commercial, cultural, sports and co-working office facilities. This will include turning the roof into a sports complex complete with a basketball court and a golf course.

Image: Valode et Pistre’s rendering of the refurbished station

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