Paris’ famed Eiffel Tower will get a major garden renovation that is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2024 Olympics. The $80 million USD revamp will convert the area’s industrial aesthetic into a large garden, featuring over a mile of connected greenways, pools and water fountains. The makeover is part of Mayor Ann Hidalgo’s city-wide campaign to make Paris more pedestrian-friendly.

“We’re really aiming for a high pedestrian target,” said Mayor Hidalgo in an announcement in May. “We’re going to have a splendid garden where we can hear the birds sing. It’s a place that will become a space for walking, strolling and breathing … Nature will take its place once more alongside this exceptional heritage.”

The project will be completed by Gustafson Porter + Bowman, a London-based landscape design company. After the first phase is completed by 2024, a second phase will also be finalized by 2030. The project includes turning the high-traffic bridge from the nearby metro center, where many of the 7 million annual visitors access the monument, into a pedestrian-friendly greenway. The addition of trees, gardens and fountains will also help cool the area during hot summer months.

renderings of gardens underneath the Eiffel Tower

Gustafson Porter + Bowman said, “Paris is the name of the climate agreement and to have a 54-hectare site in the middle of it that can show how one can begin to create more green space in the heart of a major city and have it available and accessible to everyone, not just millions of tourists, is fantastic.”

While this European urban garden is not necessarily meaningful in the scope of the climate crisis, urban green spaces certainly have localized benefits in terms of air quality, community-building and public health.

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Critics of the major garden project argue that a car-free zone in this high traffic area will add time to workers’ commutes and will simply relocate air pollution to other parts of the city without doing much to actually improve it.

+ Gustafson Porter + Bowman

Via The Guardian

Image via Christophe Schindler; rendering via Gustafson Porter + Bowman