The Making of Grand Paris
Metropolitan Urbanism in the Twenty-First Century
A critical examination of metropolitan planning in Paris—the “Grand Paris” initiative—and the building of today's networked global city.
In 2007 the French government announced the “Grand Paris” initiative. This ambitious project reimagined the Paris region as integrated, balanced, global, sustainable, and prosperous. Metropolitan solidarity would unite divided populations; a new transportation system, the Grand Paris Express, would connect the affluent city proper with the low-income suburbs; streamlined institutions would replace fragmented governance structures. Grand Paris is more than a redevelopment plan; it is a new paradigm for urbanism. In this first English-language examination of Grand Paris, Theresa Enright offers a critical analysis of the early stages of the project, considering whether it can achieve its twin goals of economic competitiveness and equality.
Enright argues that by orienting the city around growth and marketization, Grand Paris reproduces the social and spatial hierarchies it sets out to address. For example, large expenditures for the Grand Paris Express are made not for the public good but to increase the attractiveness of the region to private investors, setting off a real estate boom, encouraging gentrification, and leaving many residents still unable to get from here to there.
Enright describes Grand Paris as an example of what she calls “grand urbanism,” large-scale planning that relies on infrastructural megaprojects to reconfigure urban regions in pursuit of speculative redevelopment. Democracy and equality suffer under processes of grand urbanism. Given the logic of commodification on which Grand Paris is based, these are likely to suffer as the project moves forward.
As Paris enters a remake not unlike the upheavals of the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, Theresa Enright's fascinating book offers an indispensable guide to the global city region's newly networked future.
Roger Keil, York Research Chair in Global Sub/Urban Studies, York University, Toronto, editor of Suburban Governance: A Global View
In this investigation of the contemporary politics of 'Grand Paris' and its contradictions, Theresa Enright powerfully contributes to our understanding of emergent patterns and pathways of competitive metropolitan development in France, Europe, and beyond. Behind the ideological progressivism and monumental ambition surrounding such 'grand projects,' Enright's study reveals a growth-oriented, profit-driven, speculative, and broadly neoliberalizing approach to urbanism that will, she argues, reproduce the sociospatial inequalities they are ostensibly meant to counteract. This book is a key contribution to our understanding of metropolitan governance restructuring, as well as a useful intervention into broader debates regarding the variegated political-institutional forms in which neoliberal urbanism is being pursued.
Neil Brenner, Professor of Urban Theory, Harvard Graduate School of Design, author of New State Spaces and Critique of Urbanization
The Making of Grand Paris introduces the notion of grand urbanism as a way of making sense of how some cities are seeking to author their own redevelopment. Giving us more, much more, than a single case study, Theresa Enright has delivered a book that goes straight to the top of the must-read list of any serious urban scholar.
Kevin Ward, Professor, University of Manchester, coeditor of Mobile Urbanism: Cities and Policymaking in the Global Age
Grand Paris, 'L'imagination au pouvoir?' Theresa Enright brings to light the contradictory forces surrounding 'Grand Paris'—the dreamed world metropolis. She examines 'grand urbanism' in terms of the ideas of architects, the rescaling of governance, and the hard realities of various economic interests. A great read.
Patrick Le Galès, FBA, Research Professor Sciences Po/CNRS, Centre d'Etudes Européennes, Dean, Sciences Po Urban School