Paris hopes €1bn revamp of Les Halles can become city’s ‘beating heart’

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Paris hopes €1bn revamp of Les Halles can become city's 'beating heart'
La Canopee’, a curvilinear building inspired by plant life and designed by French architects Jacques Anziutti and Patrick Berger at Les Halles in Paris / © AFP

French capital to unveil reworked site crowned with one of the most ambitious architectural projects of the decade

For 40 years, Paris has carried the shame of an incredible act of architectural self-sabotage. The heart of the city has never fully recovered from the brazen 1970s bulldozing of the magnificent, 19th-century wrought-iron market pavilions at Les Halles and the creation, in their place, of an airless underground transport and shopping complex seen as a monstrous, mirror-glassed carbuncle.

But after decades of cultural spats, protests and political handwringing, the city is finally attempting to make amends. Later this spring, Paris will unveil an entirely reworked Les Halles crowned with one of the most ambitious architectural projects of the decade – a giant, undulating glass roof spanning 2.5 hectares, which hopes to literally put a lid on the problem.

Known as “the Canopy”, the enormous, undulating roof is made up of 18,000 scale-like pieces of glass held in the air by 7,000 tonnes of steel at a cost of over €200m (£150m). It was designed to open up a new panorama across the city centre. […]