The Economist: Disney has built a pseudo-Paris near Paris
03 August 2017

Partner Brian Shea talks about his work on the Val D’Europe Master Plan with The Economist:

“Val d’Europe is one of two full-fledged towns Disney built under Michael Eisner, the company’s boss from 1984 to 2005 and an urban-planning enthusiast. In Florida it was Celebration, an idealised community of picket fences and front porches that promised a return to 1950s America. Val d’Europe shares Celebration’s principle of “new urbanism”, which promotes mixed zoning, density and walkability. But the design decisions came from the French bureaucracy. “The last thing they wanted to see was a new idea,” says a former Disney executive involved in the negotiations.

This was, in part, a reaction against suburbanisation, says Brian Shea, an architect who worked on Val d’Europe’s master plan. But it was also a rejection of the high postmodernism of Ricardo Bofill’s housing estates in nearby Noisy-le-Grand. Though spectacular to look at—they formed the backdrop to such alarming movies as “Brazil” and “The Hunger Games”—they failed as experiments in urban housing. Nobody, it turned out, actually wanted to live on the set of a retro-futuristic dystopia.

Val d’Europe has been a commercial success. Under the terms of its agreement with the state, Disney retains the option to buy more land at 1987 prices—€1.69 ($2.00) per square metre—which it can then sell on at market price or develop. The region’s population grew from 5,000 in 1989 to 30,000 in 2016 (about a fifth of working-age adults are employed by Disney). That is expected to double by 2030.”

Read the full article at The Economist.