MVRDV - MVRDV’s Lyon Part-Dieu opens, modernising a 1970s shopping centre with a rooftop garden

MVRDV’s Lyon Part-Dieu opens, modernising a 1970s shopping centre with a rooftop garden


The Lyon Part-Dieu shopping centre has opened today with a ceremony attended by representatives of Unibail Rodamco Westfield alongside MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas and members from the project’s design team. The project has transformed the original shopping centre, which was built in the 1970s, adding an extra 32,000m2 of lettable space as well as a vast public roof garden.

The design extends and restructures the mall, opening the building up to the street. By rearranging the existing programme and replacing the old car park, MVRDV’s design “re-socialises” the existing structure, integrating the building into the surrounding urban fabric and making it more permeable to the bustle of everyday life.

Opening event of the Part-Dieu centre

 Rather than an introverted behemoth in the city centre, Part-Dieu now engages with the other urban amenities in its vicinity. Terraces on the south façade have been rearranged to provide a direct connection with the neighbouring library, while the restructured main entrance, on the eastern side of the building, provides access to visitors arriving from the Part-Dieu train station. The street is not only pulled through the building via an east-west walkway, but also over it, with stairways and escalators that take users up to the building’s terraces and green public rooftop.

However, the design doesn’t completely erase the history of the building, which is among the largest urban shopping centres in Europe. The new design retains the old building’s visual identity by reviving and extending its distinctive façade of interlocking rectangles. These concrete panels, which previously were a dull beige, are now fresh and contemporary thanks to a new white coating. The panels are also replicated on the extensions, with a modern twist; at the entrance and other key locations, the façade ‘evaporates’ to reveal sections of glass. This improved transparency reinforces the building’s openness, creating a physical and symbolic gesture heralding the gateway to a revitalized Lyon Part-Dieu.

Opening ceremony of the Part-Dieu centre

 Together, these changes reconnect the Part-Dieu centre not only with its immediate surroundings, but also to the greater Lyon. On the roof, views are created to the Metallic Tower of Fourvière and the city's Basilica Notre Dame by opening up the façade pattern and rearranging the existing building masses.

“The complex, once closed in on itself, is opening up. It is becoming a place where the public can do more than simply shop; they can appropriate it, cross it, and climb it”, says MVRDV Founding Partner Winy Maas. “On the roof we create an urban platform that lies somewhere between a tranquil park and a vibrant market place, recreating an atmosphere inspired by Lyon's quays. This space is conceived as a hanging garden, which offers a new place of relaxation to Lyonnais who wish to escape from the city and its tumult.”

The building is now open to shoppers, with work continuing until autumn to complete all elements of the design. Read more about Lyon Part-Dieu here