Paris has its answer to Silicon Valley, with plans to convert an historic train station into the world’s largest home for digital entrepreneurship. Architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte has been entrusted to rehabilitate the landmark building, situated on the southern bank of the river Seine, into a technological hub to accommodate 1,000 start-up companies by the year 2016.
The new Halle Freyssinet building will be structured around modular container-based architecture, a nod to the cargo train heritage of the building, and will provide a range of business functions including meeting rooms, spacious co-working areas, a large auditorium, a fab-lab (workshop to create digital prototypes) and a 24-hour restaurant and bar. The ambitious venture is made possible through the Municipality of Paris with joint financing by Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and French entrepreneur, Xavier Nile.
If all goes to plan, the new digital incubator will strengthen France’s presence and competitiveness in the tech enterprise market by cultivating an open space for entrepreneurs to grow and share ideas.
“Paris is a magical city, a city that attracts people from around the world and where a real energy around digital is developing. But young companies that want to settle there are faced with a lack of affordable, practical and high-speed equipped places.” Xavier Niel told the newspaper Journal du Dimanche.