Showcasing our Paris studio: Over 20 years’ experience of designing innovative & market-leading developments for the French property market

Chapman Taylor’s Paris studio has more than 20 years’ experience of designing innovative and market-leading developments for the French property market and elsewhere, in sectors ranging from retail and leisure to office and transport. We talk to Director Nicolas Guillot about Chapman Taylor’s extensive experience, asking how Chapman Taylor continues to distinguish itself in a competitive industry.

When was Chapman Taylor’s Paris studio established?

The studio was set up in 2002, though we worked in the French market from London since 1996. Our first big French project was the Val d’Europe development near Disneyland Paris. 

We have worked on many mixed-use and town centre developments – the first one was in Annecy – and we have a lot of experience in creating urban retail environments, with a particular talent for refurbishing listed buildings.

We currently have between 15 and 18 people working at the studio at any given time.

A recent project was Shopping Promenade Coeur Picardie, near Amiens, which has been hugely successful

How has the French market changed since the studio opened?

There have been many changes in the retail sector, particularly over the last 15 years. Standalone shopping centres are now being replaced by mixed-use developments where the retail element is complemented by residential, office, leisure and other uses. Some activities are being brought back into the town centres from the edge of town. Also, of course, competition from online retailers is transforming the retail market, and bricks-and-mortar retailers are having to adapt their business models very quickly. Each development context is different, and we tailor what we design to those specific circumstances.

How do you liaise with Chapman Taylor’s Brussels studio?

For about five years, we have been working with the Chapman Taylor Brussels studio in a mutually beneficial way, particularly in relation to one of our major clients, LSGI, a French company with which the Belgian studio has a very good relationship. We currently share work on a major shopping centre refurbishment project at Evry, near Paris, for LSGI, with the Paris studio focusing on working with the local authority in designing the public areas around the development. 

Passages Pasteur is a mixed-use urban regeneration project within an historic conservation of Besançon. Footfall is 20% higher than expected after the first year trading

Tell us about some current projects the studio is working on

We just finished a new type of retail development at Amiens for the Frey Group, called Shopping Promenade Coeur Picardie, which has been hugely successful. We are currently creating another development, Shopping Promenade Claye-Souilly, near Paris for the same client using similar design principles, with a different mix for the local context. For the Amiens development, we created a transition between the old edge-of-town retail park model and the new concept, but here we are going much further, creating a new type of retail development for France. The new concept includes a substantial leisure and F&B component, and we believe that it will be a very exciting addition to the French retail scene when it opens in September 2019.

Shopping Promenade Claye-Souilly, near Paris, will be a game changing addition to the French retail scene in 2019

Another small (less than 3,000 m²) but close to our heart project is a prestigious building called Cour Bareuzai in Dijon. It’s a retail and F&B development within a listed former mansion house in the heart of the historical district of Dijon, part of which was built in the sixteenth century. We are very proud of this project, and have had very good feedback from citizens in the city of Dijon.

Cour Bareuzai is a retail project in the UNESCO World Heritage city centre of Dijon, France. The development will involve the careful renovation of a 17th/18th century mansion

How is Chapman Taylor positioned in the French market?

We are very well known in the French retail sector, having been present in the market for two decades now. We have a strong reputation for design and innovation, and the Amiens project is a very good example of that. We also focus on the residential and office sectors as well.

We are competing with companies from around the world. One of our big advantages is that we are simultaneously local and international. We are an international company, yet we are very much a Paris studio, and that is a very positive aspect of who we are.

Tell us about the Paris studio Research Lab

We have developed an in-house Research Lab to demonstrate to clients the extent of our understanding of cutting-edge developments in the real estate market. Our aim is to show our creativity and innovation, helping us to differentiate ourselves in a very competitive market. Though the Lab is led by our feasibility team, we involve everyone in the studio in the work, and we hold informal meetings once or twice a month where everyone can exchange ideas.

The Research Lab is where we ask questions about housing, workplaces, mixed-use developments or transportation, and how it will work in the future. We aim to produce a case study design every month and produce an innovative solution to current real estate problems, yet be realistic and commercially applicable. 

Some of our current French Research and Development projects

What do you foresee for Chapman Taylor in France?

The future of many large retail-led developments in France will be mixed-use, an area where Chapman Taylor has considerable experience. Standalone retail is about to become a thing of the past, and so it is healthy to be able to design beyond just retail.

Our Transportation work will increase.  Many French airports have been privatised over the past ten years, with big developments taking place at airports in places like Nice, Toulouse, Lyon and Bordeaux. With Chapman Taylor’s expertise and connections, we will continue to expand into this thriving sector.

Nicolas Guillot (Dip Arch DESA Registered architect ‘Ordre des architectes Ile de France’)

Director, Paris

Nicolas joined Chapman Taylor in London in 1998. He relocated to Paris in 2001 and is now the Director responsible for the general management and development of our Paris studio. 

With extensive design experience leading various projects from conception through to delivery Nicolas has managed large-scale projects across various sectors in both France and internationally.

Areas of expertise:

Retail / Masterplanning

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