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Can 'Reinvent Paris 2' Rise Above Its Bad Reputation?

A groundbreaking architectural competition returns to Paris. Are its critics right to fear another fiasco?
A disused metro tunnel at Champs de Mars, one of the sites due for a redesign as part of Reinvent Paris 2
A disused metro tunnel at Champs de Mars, one of the sites due for a redesign as part of Reinvent Paris 2RATP

This summer, Paris is poised to show cities around the world how to make the most out of neglected, hard-to-deal-with urban spaces.

To do so, it’s inviting architects to go underground. As part of a new competition called Reinvent Paris 2 (Réinventer Paris 2 in French), the city is asking urban designers to come up with innovative uses for 34 pieces currently unused or under-used city-owned plots—most of which are entirely or partly subterranean. Among the line-up are disused “ghost” metro stations such as Croix-Rouge, various basements of historic buildings, tunnels freed up by the banning of cars from the Seine’s lower quay, unused reservoirs, subterranean parking lots and former abattoirs.