The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, launched a city-sponsored design competition last year that invites teams of architects and developers to carry out “an urban experiment on an unparalleled scale,” with these words:

Paris has to reinvent itself. A city like Paris must be able to reinvent itself at every moment in order to meet the many challenges facing it. Particularly in terms of housing and everything relating to density, desegregation, energy, and resilience. It is important in today’s world to find new collective ways of working that will give shape to the future metropolis.

To lovers of Paris, this can only be dismaying. Reinvent Paris? The universally admired archetype of the traditional city? Given previous attempts at...


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