Students reinventing cities: two PSL projets won the C40 international competition


Two joint teams of students from PSL, New York University (NYU), and George Washington University (GWU) won the C40 "Students reinventing cities" competition.

In December 2020, the metropolises of the C40 international alliance invited students to participate in an international competition: "Students Reinventing Cities".  Based on pilot neighborhoods places in 18 cities around the world, participants were asked to imagine a new sustainable, resilient and inclusive urban model and proposing concrete action plans and projects. The results were announced on September 28. Two PSL teams won for their projects to renovate the Porte d'Orléans neighborhood in Paris and the New York Avenue NE Corridor neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

These two multidisciplinary and international teams bring together teachers and students from ENS-PSL, Mines Paris-PSL, the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture Paris-Malaquais (a PSL partner institution), and also from New York University and George Washington University, two American universities in the PSL partner network. For several months, under the guidance of PSL's international relations department, the teams worked to imagine projects to decarbonize these urban areas and sustainably improve the quality of life of the inhabitants of these two global metropolises.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring a good quality of life for residents were two core requirements defined by the "Students Reinventing Cities" specifications. Their approach also had to meet a certain number of criteria such as the use of sustainable materials and energy, the design of inclusive places in line with the uses and needs of the neighborhoods or the design of green spaces or climate change resilient solutions...

The Porte d'Orléans project brought together a multidisciplinary and international team composed of three professors from NYU and ENS - PSL, five PSL master's students and six students from NYU's Tandon School of Engineering. The challenge for the students was to "reinvent" this site, which covers 60 hectares, where car traffic is very heavy on certain roads and which is home to a socially mixed but divided population.

Drawing on their creativity and urban experiences in New York and Paris, the PSL - NYU team built its project on four key elements:

  • Reorganize the road axes to foster soft mobility and smooth the entry/exit to Paris;.
  • Renovate the Petite Ceinture to turn it into a green recreational space, like the High Line in New York;
  • Greening the Montrouge cemetery to make it a place of remembrance, but also a place for walking, as is commonly done in the United States;
  • Greening sidewalks to protect pedestrians from the heat.


« Students Reinventing Cities »

Named Ivy City Renaissance, the second winning project brought together two students in geography and literature at ENS - PSL and two students from George Washington University (GWU). The New York Avenue NE Corridor in the city of Washington, D.C. is a 105-hectare place with heavy traffic and high property prices. The original work of the PSL - GWU team was to promote an inclusive and ecological rejuvenation of the site. Based on interviews with local government officials, sustainable urban planning experts, and local residents, they identified three key areas for renovation:

  • Promoting innovative mobility through the creation of both a shuttle & bus rapid transit system, coupled with streets design that enhances active transportation options.
  • Fostering inlcusivity by repurposing the Crummell School lot into a community center, providing services and shelter for Ivy City’s homeless population, and converting parking lots into affordable housing.
  • Enhancing sustainability by revitalizing Lewis Crowe Park, greening parking lots, and transforming shipping containers into LEED-certified structures.
« Students Reinventing Cities »

These two projects will be presented by the winning teams at various events organized by the cities, the allianceC40 and their universities. At PSL, a feedback event will be organized on October 8 at the Climate Academy, a new venue at the Paris City Hall designed to host educational and collaborative projects dedicated to climate issues.

In the months and years to come, the participants of the various projects will also be involved by the city halls of Paris and Washington in the implementation of their proposals.

 Quelle intégration des enjeux environnementaux dans les enseignements ? Retour d’expérience sur l’un des ateliers U7

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Feedback from winners on October 8, 6 p.m-8 p.m.