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Can Paris’s Olympic Village Make for a Healthier Saint-Denis?

The project fits into the suburb’s plans for a more equitable future, but some are skeptical, as similar ambitions have not panned out at past games.
The French capital is hoping that it will be able to use the games to effect the economic transformation of the inner suburbs of Northern Paris.
The French capital is hoping that it will be able to use the games to effect the economic transformation of the inner suburbs of Northern Paris.Dominique Perrault

As the host of the 2024 Summer Olympics, Paris is the latest city to use the world’s largest sporting event as a massive regeneration tool. Just as London did in 2012, the French capital is hoping that it will be able to use the games to effect the economic transformation of a relatively neglected part of the metro area—in this case, the inner suburbs of Northern Paris. This spring, concrete details of the facilities that will help to bring about this hoped-for transformation are starting to trickle into the public domain.

Among the first are plans for the Olympic Village from the studio of architect and urban planner Dominique Perrault (known, among other projects, for his National Library of France and Berlin Velodrome) due to be erected on a riverside site in the suburb of Saint-Denis. The plan is especially significant because, like all Olympic Villages, the new quarter will transform into a regular neighborhood after the games, ideally bringing life to an ex-industrial corner of the metropolis. So will the village deliver?