A recipe for urban planning with a side of social and cultural solidarity

June 2, 2020 6mn
Festin an ambitious project that established the business district of Paris La Défense as a cultural destination in its own right

Table Square is set to become a Parisian gastronomic hot spot, an up-and-coming culinary venue in the heart of the Paris La Défense Esplanade featuring seven restaurants, along with panoramic views and an 8,000-m² (86,000-sq.ft.) outside dining area. In May 2020, the site will welcome renowned chefs including Anne-Sophie Pic, Akrame Benallal and Olivier Bellin.

Looking to leverage the construction site as a showcase for their social and artistic commitment, in 2018 Paris La Défense and the project developer, Urban Renaissance, formed a partnership with the association La Source. Founded in 1991 by artist Gérard Garouste, the association creates artist-led workshops to introduce children experiencing social and/or learning difficulties to art and culture.

Under the leadership of Olivier Durand, CEO of Urban Renaissance, a modern art exhibition was organized along the 200-meter (656-foot) barrier surrounding the Table Square construction site. Gérard Garouste choose Festin (“Feast”) as a central theme, echoing the aspirations of the restaurant complex.

With the support of Paris La Défense, the two men were recruited 32 artists, each of whom created a work for the project. At the same time, five workshops centered on the themes of food and gourmet cuisine were organized in the spring of 2019 in the association’s various offices throughout France. To further enhance the project, a group of about 10 underprivileged young people from Association du site de la Défense, an NGO active in Paris La Défense, painted a massive fresco together.

From March to June 2019, reproductions of artwork were displayed on the barrier, right in the heart of the Esplanade. The open-air exhibition offered a creative way to conceal the construction work, while giving meaning to the development project. The original works were auctioned off, with the €250,000 in proceeds going to fund future workshops by La Source.

Committed, unifying, intriguing, artistic and original, Festin succeeded in involving and uniting various stakeholders in an ambitious project that established the business district as a cultural destination in its own right.

Following these achievements, Paris La Défense teams strongly encourage investors to organize artistic initiatives around their real estate projects.