Vie en Ville

Developing an urban attractor

Unibail-Rodamco invited PCA-STREAM, MVRDV and Manuelle Gautrand Architecture to develop a theoretical concept of commercial urban planning, “Vie en Ville” (Life in the City). Furthering research done by the agency on new forms of commerce, the project explores the innovative form of an urban attractor based on a diverse hyper-density. This proposition brings together commercial dynamism, public interest and environmental issues around a common, fluid and attractive street.

Exploring a concept of commercial urban planning

In 2009, Unibail-Rodamco solicited PCA-STREAM, MVRDV and Manuelle Gautrand Architecture to spatialize a new concept for commercial urban planning, called “Vie en Ville”. Located on a hypothetical site, measuring two to three hectares, being relatively common in large european cities (similar to industrial or railway brown-fields), the programme proposes a diverse neighbourhood covering around 75,000 m², consisting of housing accommodation, offices and an important commercial component on the ground floors of buildings. The specific nature of the programme comes from the “over-densification” of the parcel on the basement level, allowing for the obtention a critical mass of stores so as to produce a new, attractive and dynamic centre.

Neighborhood entrance © PCA-STREAM
Market hall © PCA-STREAM


Programming a beacon of diverse, vertical hyper-density

PCA-STREAM seized upon Unibail-Rodamco's proposition by multiplying the open spaces in contact with the city, blurring the boundaries between public and private space, in such a way as to dramatize the diversity of the programmes. The project structures an open commercial base that allows for fluid movement while offering private access to housing and offices. Beyond the risk of the progressive commodification of public space, the concept of “Vie en Ville” raises the questions of diversity, of variety and the density necessary in the creation of an area of the city. It is interesting for an operator on the scale of Unibail-Rodamco to lift this taboo, with real estate operators and their investors being generally reluctant to mix these functions, due to their strong segmentation in terms of sector.

Block plan © PCA-STREAM
Longitudinal section © PCA-STREAM
Simplified axonometric view © PCA-STREAM


Fusioning commercial archetypes to design an urban attractor

Though the traditional city is defined by its places of centrality, essential points of reference of a “psycho-geography” that establish the unique character of its appeal, this element is all too often missing from new neighbourhoods. Density and diversity, as functional as they are social, are essential ingredients for centrality, providing a source of life and of pleasure. The commercial outlet, in its different historical forms, has remained the principal catalyser for the animation of a neighbourhood: the marketplace, the large store and the shopping street are all traditional urban forms that provide a city with its living character. Today these archetypes are experiencing a renewed interest in the wake of fundamental trends: a struggle against urban spread, a return to healthier products and ways of life, a search for a new urbanity and disenchantment with the shopping complex on the outskirts of the city. PCA-STREAM proposes to bring together these three commercial archetypes to result in an urban concept that is diverse, coherent and attractive.

Neighborhood entrance © PCA-STREAM
Public spaces © PCA-STREAM
Project model © PCA-STREAM



Client Unibail Rodamco
Program Shopping center, offices and housing
Location Theoretical site
Cost 150 M€ HT
Status Competition (2008)

Caption(s) image(s) from the page header

  • Aerial view © PCA-STREAM