Boucicaut : a high-quality neighborhood in the center of Paris

The Boucicaut Eco-Neighborhood, certified by the Ministry of Housing, Territorial Equality and Rurality in December 2014, spans some 3 hectares in Paris’ 15th Arrondissement (105.4km²), 700 m from the Seine as the crow flies, in a densely-populated, residential and family-oriented neighborhood.
The lot was previously home to the Boucicaut Hospital, which opened in the late 19th century. The institution was named after its founder, Marguerite Boucicaut, widow of Aristide Boucicaut, the owner and original developer of Paris’ first department store Le Bon Marché. She left her fortune to the City’s Public Assistance System, asking that it be used to build Paris’ first « modern hospital ».
When the hospital closed in 2000, the City of Paris recognized what was a major opportunity to purchase land in an urban environment under heavy strain. It set out to create a fully-pedestrian neighborhood, open onto the surrounding area, offering high environmental quality, and respectful of both the architectural and landscaped legacy left by the site, and the philanthropic spirit of Marguerite Boucicaut.
The re-development program offers exceptional social and generational diversity, in particular through the variety of housing types offered: public housing, rent-controlled housing, private rental housing, lease-purchase housing and a social housing complex for migrant workers. Across the various buildings, the ground floor facilities include community amenities ranging from a cultural center, to day centers for the disabled and apartments for women in distress. Offices and shops round out the neighborhood’s offerings.

5243_001The coordinated development zone Boucicaut is set on plot previously dedicated to Boucicaut Hospital, inaugurated at the start of the 19th century.

Composed of small buildings interspersed with gardens, the architectural design concept prevented contagious infection as then just revealed by Louis Pasteur’s medical and hygienist studies.


From the 1920s on, the hospital would undergo multiple changes, as medicine progressed. While the transformations were initially carried out in keeping with the original buildings’ character, from the 1950s and 1960s, the site’s image began to change, as motley buildings were erected, the landscaped areas gave way to new buildings and parking lots were carved out.

One century after it first opened, Boucicaut Hospital’s wards took up quarters in a new hospital facility, the Georges Pompidou European Hospital, leaving Boucicaut to close its doors in late 2000.

When the hospital-related activities were wound up, the site was divided into two sections, each destined for a distinct re-development project.
During the first stage of construction, approximately two hectares of the site were rented out to the Jussieu University Campus, a public establishment looking for a place to house its research laboratories while its own buildings were undergoing asbestos removal operations.
The laboratories vacated the site in December 2010, making it possible to start on the second stage of construction.


Before the project’s start, a « heritage and architecture » diagnostic review was carried out in order to determine which buildings were most characteristic of the hospital and should thus be preserved. Given the changes made over the course of the 20th century, only 4 buildings and the hospital chapel were able to be preserved and showcased. Similarly, some twenty outstanding centennial chestnut trees were preserved. The Eco-Neighborhood, as it was re-developed, was also restored to its past image and to that of its founder, Madame Boucicaut.

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2 distinct phases

The re-development plan was carried out in 2 distinct phases, two-thirds of the site having been occupied for 10 years by the research teams of Jussieu University, itself undergoing renovation.

The 1st phase of the operation, launched in 2001, included:

  • An 11-classroom school in the rehabilitated former hospital, opened in 2003.
  • A nursery with 60 cribs and a medical teaching institute in a rehabilitated pavillon (Pavillon Lenègre) opened in 2009.
  • Two buildings, including:
    • public housing
    • a women’s shelter
    • a day center for mentally-challenged adults
    • a structure for dependent elderly people
    • shops
  • a 54-space underground parking lot;
  • public areas: two squares and a new walkway along Pavillon Lenègre, the Rue Lacordaire Garden and the Pavillon Lenègre plaza.

The 2nd stage of the project, launched in 2009, still in progress, will include:

  • 216 public housing units, including a 49-room residence for migrant workers,
  • 2 shelters for disabled adults (20 rooms in all),
  • 77 rent-controlled housing units,
  • 65 private capped-rent housing units,
  • 60 private lease-purchase housing units,
  • approximately 6 000 m² in office space, in a company incubator,
  • approximately 850 m² in shopping space (3 shopping centers),
  • A 3 444 m² central plaza,
  • 3 walkways.

Boucicaut : a high-quality neighborhood in the center of Paris

The Boucicaut Eco-Neighborhood is a coordinated development zone (ZAC), meaning a public urban development project decided upon by the public authorities, in this case, the City of Paris, and entrusted to a development company, here, SemPariSeine. The City issued a specific construction and public infrastructure programme (housing, activities, amenities) which was to be implemented by the selected developer. The revenue from the sale of the yet undeveloped land is expected to cover all of the work and construction required to make the lots viable and complete the public areas.

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The project has made it possible to create a high-quality neighborhood in the center of Paris that will at the same time fit harmoniously into the existing environment:

  • The housing units were designed to combine conveniences with limited expenses for the future inhabitants. One illustration of this is found in the ultra-efficient insulation (in large part exterior) : some building walls are up to 50cm thick, thus limiting the amount of energy needed to heat them. The design principles were also chosen to optimize thermal comfort in the apartments, thanks to passive systems such as shading devices, which limit excess incoming sun in the summer and maximizing it in the winter. The living areas enjoy natural lighting and views onto the surrounding area, so that lighting costs can be kept to a minimum.
    Likewise, 40% of sanitary hot water consumption is covered by thermal solar panels placed on the building roofs.
    As to water consumption, high-efficiency systems (faucet aerators, double-flush systems, etc.) were installed, with the aim of limiting consumption to a maximum of 80l/inhabitant/day. Likewise, rainwater is recovered and reused to water the common landscaped areas and for cleaning in the common areas. At the company incubator, rainwater is also used as input for the toilets.
    Lastly, the materials used are easy to keep clean and were chosen for their sanitary and environmental qualities: the carpets, paint, adhesives and coatings are all certified (European eco-label, Ange Bleu or equivalent); mandatory thresholds have been established as regards pollutant concentrations in the wall coverings; a minimum volume of certified wood has been set (at least 10dm3/m² floor area), etc.
  • The public areas are both of prime quality and invite nature into the city. The Eco-Neighborhood will be entirely pedestrian and include a 3,444m² square formed around preserved centennial chestnut trees. In choosing the plant essences, priority was given to local and metropolitan varieties.
    The public areas were intended as places where not only the residents but also those living in the surrounding streets can enjoyably meet and interact.
    Special structures for the local fauna (nesting boxes for birds, pollinators, bats, etc.) have been set up on the private lots and in the future public areas. It should be noted that the City of Paris has chosen the Boucicaut Eco-Neighborhood as its pilot operation for biodiversity, and as such, a testing ground and model for future urban endeavors.
  • Low-impact modes of transport will be given priority and vehicle circulation kept to a minimum. Each building will have one or more bicycle shelters accessible at ground level. In the public areas, spaces have been set aside for bicycle parking. Off the site grounds, less than 500 meters away, several public electrical bicycle and vehicle stations can be found, as well as a metro station and several bus stations.
    In addition, recharging stations for electrical vehicles will be found in the parking lots of the lots still under construction, in order to foster the further development of this type of transport.
  • To harmoniously blend the architecture into the existing urban fiber, special studies were undertaken with the Eco-Neighborhood’s coordinating architect and lot managers: the neighborhood’s basic architectural unit, inspired by the suburban homes around Paris, remains true to the former hospital’s make-up, and brick was given priority over all other materials.
  • Rainwater management at the site was designed to limit the neighborhood’s impact on Paris’ sanitation systems in the event of heavy rains. Consequently, alternative systems were implemented:

    • In the public areas, drainage trenches and landscaped ditches make it possible to infiltrate 100% of rainfall up to 16 mm. The central square is on open ground and enables natural rainwater infiltration.
    • On the lots with buildings, the roofs have been equipped with plant cover, with substrates between 18 and 35 cm thick across a total surface area of more than 4,000m². An underground infiltration basin has, for instance, been proposed for Lot E, where there is discharge to the sanitation system.

    Lastly, SemPariSeine has made it one of its aims to secure the long-term future of the systems implemented and ensure that the future inhabitants take full ownership of them. Toward this end, multiple communication efforts have been initiated, raising residents’ awareness about the Eco-Neighborhood (festive events and information sessions, green action booklets, brochure introducing the Eco-Neighborhood to the new inhabitants, newsletters, etc.). All of these will help make users more familiar with the Eco-Neighborhood, the first step toward bringing about a change in practices.
    Similarly, the City of Paris’ technical agencies, which will be in charge of managing the Eco-Neighborhood’s public areas, were involved in the project’s planning process, taking part in each stage of the preparatory studies.

    Project team

    Developer :


    Owner :

    The City of Paris (school, nursery)
    Public housing landlords: Elogie and RIVP (lots A, B, C, E and F)
    Developers: Crédit Agricole Immobilier / Pitch Promotion and Nexity (lots D, G and H)


    AUA Paul Chemetov (coordinating architect and lot F) –
    Jean-François Schmit Architectes (school) –
    Naud & Poux Architectes (nursery and medical teaching institute) –
    Brenac & Gonzales (lots A and B) –
    Michel Guthmann – Architecte & Urbanisme (lot C) –
    Petitdidier Prioux Architectes (lot D) –
    Ameller & Dubois Associés (lot E) –
    Daufresne, Le Garrec & Associés (lot G) –
    Brossy & Associés (lot H) –


    Coordinating architect: AUA Paul Chemetov (known in particular as architect to the French Ministry of Finance)
    Coordinating landscaping artist: Comptoir des Projets
    A coordinating architecture and landscaping team has been alongside SemPariseine on the project, since October 2009. During the early stages, it was responsible for detailing the re-development plan as approved after the preliminary studies, in order to produce concrete action lines: location and footprint of each program, surface area per program, supply principles, etc.
    Once this was completed, it was asked to produce architectural and landscaping recommendations for each lot and for the public areas, then monitor implementation over each stage of the project: competitive selection, summary project submissions, detailed project submissions, construction permit, construction, etc.

    Landscaping & Engineering for public areas: SLG Paysages / ESE
    The team in charge of designing and delivering the public areas was named in 2010. It was given responsibility for coming up with the entire design concept for the public areas. Its mission statement was divided into two parts. It was first to design the site’s water, electricity, heating and telecommunications supply systems, as it the developer’s responsibility to extend the grids to the edge of each lot on which construction is to take place. Where landscaping was concerned, the team was to design a quality-focused project for the future public areas, including walkways, squares and play areas. Working from the project’s overall lay-out map, it put forth proposals regarding materials, floor coverings, and furniture (benches, outdoor lamps, waste baskets). The final decisions were made in consensus with the City of Paris, the neighborhood’s future managing authority. The team then supervised the execution process.

    Assistance to contracting authority in charge of sustainable development: Le Sommer Environnement / 2EI
    The team in charge of sustainable development (with a special mandate on water management and biodiversity) joined the project in May 2010. Its prime objective was to set out the sustainable development strategy for the coordinated development zone Boucicaut, listing the major thematic lines, indicators and target levels.
    For this purpose, it produced environmental and sustainable development specifications, and monitored performance during both the engineering and construction phases (quarterly visits to each of the construction sites and lots).
    A Clean Construction Site charter was also drawn up, taking into account the constraints specific to the site. All construction companies working on the site are expected to abide by the charter.

    Assistance to contracting authority in charge of social integration: Face Paris
    In April 2011, SemPariSeine chose Face Paris to assist it in developing its strategy for social integration through economic activity, to be deployed across the site. Together, they set out the targets, determined the performance calculation method, and tracked performance on targets by the respective companies.
    A social integration clause has been inserted into each of the companies’ service contracts, requiring that 6% of the total working hours be served by individuals in integration programs. Already, through coordinated development zone Boucicaut construction projects, 7 people initially hired on integration contracts have signed long-term work contracts.

    Time management and site head: Planitec BTP
    Planitec BTP is in charge of planning and organizing work across time and space. It is in charge of assisting SemPariSeine in organizing the construction work-streams, while also arranging the delivery time-line and construction site scheduling so as to minimize the impact on the neighboring area.