Q: What is the vision behind 'Grand Paris'?

A: The vision behind 'Grand Paris' is very easy to understand. Metropolises are cities of 8 million to 20 million people. And the Paris area has between 10 and 12 million inhabitants. The city of Paris itself has only 2.3 million, and the problem is that the density is very high. If we want to develop, if we want to create, and if we want new people and renewed economic activity, we need the size of greater Paris.

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For example, when you compare Paris to London, Paris is 100 square kilometres and London is 1000 square kilometres. So London is 10 times bigger than Paris. Thus, for Paris to be a metropolis, it needs greater Paris, and greater Paris is the future and the destiny of Paris.

Q: What kinds of innovations are vital to the grand Paris vision and project?

A: First of all, the metropolis of Paris needs a new network of public transportation. The Grand Paris express is the biggest project in Europe – it is €30bn of investment and 65 stations connecting numerous cities of greater Paris.

Second, you need housing, and affordable housing. So the greater Paris project is also a project of social housing and new kinds of housing.

Third, if you want to make a sustainable city, you have to think about environmental and energy efficient projects, and this kind of project is only possible on the scale of greater Paris. So the environmental aspect, the housing aspect, and the transportation aspect, all of these are part of this project of greater Paris.   

Q: What are some of the key trends you see in urban planning and how does the Grand Paris project embody these changes?

A: In terms of architecture and urban planning, we have launched a tender called 'Reinventing Paris', a new way of building the city centred on a rethinking of the relationship between the private and public sectors. It embodies a new relationship between the city and real estate and architects. And this tender was very special because we have decided to sell our land not to the best price offering, but to the best project in terms of innovation. And this is a revolution.

Q: What source markets are you looking to for investors, and where is most of your investment coming from?

A: As you know, Paris is very attractive and we aren’t looking for investors – investors are looking for Paris. What is very interesting is that new investors are coming from all over the world – from Asia, the Middle East, Brazil, etc. So the question is, why are the investors interested?

One of the reasons is that Paris is attractive because prices are not as high as in London. There are still some very interesting opportunities for offices, but also for new kinds of spaces such as incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces, all of which are in a project we have called 'Arc de l’Innovation', or 'Innovation Belt'. This is all part of the growing relationship between Paris and the broader neighborhood of Paris, and we want to have 1 million square metres of new buildings in connection with this economy of innovation.