a Vision for the Greater Paris
Future research about the making of the Great Paris in 2030

An experimental project developed by LIID, attached to Institute ACTE (Sorbonne University),
awarded the Paris 2030 research grant (City of Paris)
in collaboration with Paris College of Art and emerging actors of the creative metropolis.
Methodology diagram, Parsons Journal for Information Mapping.

Based on a method used by astrophysicists to represent the cosmos with a set of parallel layers to map the interaction between celestial objects, LIID drew in 2008 a conceptual planisphere showing the different dimensions of the city, to enable a full “vision”, a mental and imaginal representation, and to foster political and strategic understanding.




This methodology (and/or graphic and conceptual representation) is an innovation that responds to the issue of urban complexity, whether it be addressed by urban planners, architects, geographers, politicians or economists.


It results from a creative reasoning developed by Raphaële Bidault-Waddington in “Paris Galaxies Inc.: a Conceptual Model and Holistic Strategy Toward Envisioning Urban Development” published in the Parsons Journal For Information Mapping in New York.

She explains that her intuitive perception of the city as a galaxy came to mind as she was trying to decode the “Bulle Poético-Spéculative”, a vast photographic installation that she had created in 2001 in the Paris Project Room gallery, as a “reverse engineering” operation to expose her creative process. Several research projects then enabled her to strengthen this intuition, and its pertinence with regard to the Greater Paris area…



“Poetico-speculative Sphere”, photographic installation, © Raphaële Bidault-Waddington, Paris Project Room, 2001.


The method consists in laying out four parallel and interconnected layers, in order to “spatialize” the different urban matters:


- Layer n°1: Masterplan/Environmental Equation

- Layer n°2: Institutional Architecture/Governance system

- Layer n°3: Urban Program/Education-Economy-Culture-Social Affairs Mix

- Layer n°4: Intangible Capital / Imagination-Knowledge-Symbols-Virtulality Mix

The display of these four layers seeks to provide a holistic and strategic vision of the metropolis.


Layer 1 identifies new polarities and planning initiatives, such as making the Péripherique gateways more porous and lively as fertile exchange platforms, using educational centers and campuses as creative levers for urban development, or reflecting on new transportation networks.

Layer 2 maps and superposes governance structures onto the region (municipalities, local and regional administrations, etc.). Instead of adding to the institutional and bureaucratic maze, the galaxy model proposes to mutualize the vital functions of the Greater Paris area into a series of mutual satellite structures. Those would be common subsidiaries to the local municipalities of the Greater Paris areas (evolving perimeter), all operated independently and according to their core specific mission (modernization of the existing syndicate system).

Layer 3 embodies and maps (independently of official parameters), the urban galaxy patchwork through urban “patterns” and “themes”, revealing the finery of each land plot of the Greater Paris galaxy, singular and integrated, drawing its own creative development program.

This echoes Saskia Sassen’s considerations on the need to let go of the notion of value creation hub in order to find resources for future development within the singular character of each local constituency. Designing “themes” to the city helps us navigate its different functionalities and missions (educational, economic, cultural, social), in order to enhance the styles and profiles that bring forth, its aesthetic diversity and neighborhood character (so apparent in the “quartiers de Paris”, yet impalpable in the periphery).

Layer 4 is dedicated to the immaterial and the virtual. It enriches the urban life and the public places represented in previous layers. But this virtual screen has a strength and dynamics of its own, feeding off the urban galaxy’s magnetic fields, well beyond its own territory, and capable of awakening the sleepiest areas.

Playing on this set of layers, the Paris Galaxies project experiments unconventional methods, metaphoric and creative, geared towards conducting the urban transformation of Paris into the Greater Paris area.

As an extension of the workshops undertaken in 2012 with students from the Paris College of Art (ex-Parsons School Paris), the research project, which was awarded the Paris 2030 research grant, now focuses specifically on the Greater Paris area Layer 3 and n°4 and will try to set up a specific mapping device (2013-2016 program).

To full fill this goal, LIID has done a vast inquiry among the creative actors of the Greater Paris, while maintaining a discussion with international Creative Cities experts such as Charles Landry who was commissioned a critical analysis of the Creative Grand Paris in 2012.

Ultimately, The goal of Paris Galaxies research project will be to create in 2014 a variety of creative and prospective urban “profiles” that would help imagine the future of other metropolises.