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Lyon Part-Dieu Urban Shopping Center | MVRDV


MVRDV has finished the makeover of Lyon Part-Dieu Urban Shopping Center. The redevelopment has altered the old 1970s building, “re-socializing” the commercial mall and revitalizing Lyon’s city core. While reusing many of the existing building’s materials, the design rearranges internal programs, adds more space, replaces a redundant car park, inserts large windows, refreshes the distinctive old concrete façade, and adds an expansive rooftop park connected to the city by monumental stairs. With this significant restoration, a building that was once an impediment to Lyon’s energy will begin a new chapter as a bustling city center attraction.

© Ossip van Duivenbode

Designed at an era when automobiles governed city planning, the original design of La Part-Dieu was an introverted behemoth – it was one of Europe’s largest urban shopping complexes, but had no connection to the streets around it. The renovation removes the previous car park and reorganizes the building’s interior spaces to improve circulation, while new additions add 32,000 square meters to the existing 130,000 square meters.

© Ossip van Duivenbode

Lyon Part-Dieu Urban Shopping Center’s Design Concept

Despite the drastic alteration, the design honors the building’s past. The concrete panels that made up the remarkable original façade were maintained and repurposed in accordance with circular economy principles, preserving the pattern of interlocking rectangles that defined the old building’s striking visual identity. These once drab beige concrete panels are now bright and white. They are also repeated with a modern twist on the extensions; at the entrances and other crucial spots, the façade ‘evaporates’ to reveal huge windows, enhancing the building’s openness and providing a physical and symbolic gesture proclaiming the entry to a regenerated Lyon Part-Dieu.u.

© Ossip van Duivenbode

Another notable aspect of the change can be found on the roof: large staircases rise adjacent to the main entrances of the shopping complex, leading to a multi-level rooftop garden that unites three sides of the structure. With restaurants and cafés, as well as green spaces, comfortable sitting, and play places for children, these rooftops and terraces become a true component of the city, connecting previously disconnected parts of the city – including the city’s main Part-Dieu train station. People can now cross the huge site by different pathways via or over the building; the shopping mall becomes a kind of public plateau, a vantage point from which people can orient themselves inside the city.

© Ossip van Duivenbode

The renovation of Lyon Part-Dieu demonstrates how earlier eras’ urban blunders can be sustainably incorporated into the present metropolis. Rather than demolishing and reconstructing an area the size of about 12 city blocks, the design keeps the old structure, including much of its façade, and saves the huge amounts of embodied carbon that would otherwise be created by rebuilding..

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