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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
Isabelle Martinetti

Architecture students design Olympic fan zones for Paris suburbs

'La Navette' is a mini fan zone designed by French student and architect Martin Lichtig, winner of the competition 'Mini Maousse 9'. © RFI/Cité de l'architecture

How can people living outside the centre of Paris get the most out of the Olympic Games? French architecture students sought to answer the question by designing portable fan zones for the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.

Mini Maousse is a small-scale design competition for students of architecture, art, design and landscaping that has been running for the past 20 years.

Fiona Meadows, the architect in charge of the competition, told RFI that for the 2024 edition, "the challenge was to create a nomadic mini fan zone that would move around the city of Saint-Denis during the Olympic Games".

Among the 200 entries, 30 were selected for the exhibition "When the city plays games", now on show at Paris museum the City of Architecture and Heritage.

Olympics in Saint-Denis

Saint-Denis is a working-class suburb in the north of Paris that will host competitions during the Olympics and Paralympics Games, as well as the new Olympic Aquatic Centre and Athletes' Village.

Despite its involvement, the suburb is still far from fan zones – centres for wider community access to the Games outside official venues. Thirty are planned across the Paris region.

"The idea was to create something that would be very close to neighbourhoods in the areas furthest away from the fan zones or the stadium to encourage people to do sport," explains Meadows of this year's competition.

This summer, four student prototypes will be brought to life as mobile fan zones for the Games.

Moveable fan zone

Meadows said that Paris-Malaquais School of Architecture student Martin Lichtig won the competition "unanimously because his project, called The Shuttle, is extremely effective".

"It’s a trailer carried by a car with three cabins, which are then lowered down and placed to mark out the space. And then balloons are attached to them," she explains.

"One is used as an information desk, another as a refreshment bar and the other for storage.

"Then the trailer folds out into a stage and can be used for performances, boxing or breakdancing. Then you fold it up and go."

Engineering students from the Ecole du Bois College will develop the prototypes into reality with wood as a way to share "ecological values", says Meadows.

"You can make very contemporary things with wood," she says.

The portable fan zone will belong to Saint-Denis and be used by the Dessine-moi 24 sports charity during the Games.

The community will continue to use the zones after the Games.

Similarly, the Olympic Village, designed by architect Dominique Perrault, will be repurposed as housing for residents after serving as athlete accommodation.

Mini Maousse 9. Quand la ville se prend aux jeux runs from 20 March to 16 September 2024 at the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine in Paris.

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