Our Paris studio: Over 20 years’ experience of designing innovative and 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, but we did that from London. When our work in France began to increase, it was decided to establish a permanent presence in 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.

 

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 or so. 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 the internet is transforming the retail market, and retailers are having to adapt their business models very quickly. Each development context is different, and we have to 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 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 that client, with the Paris studio focusing on working with the local authority in designing the public areas around the development. The sharing of responsibility between the Brussels and Paris studios has been very successful for that client, and we look to work closely on more projects in the future.

 

Tell us about some current projects the studio is working on

We just finished a new type of retail development at Amiens for Frey Group, called Shopping Promenade Coeur Picardie, which has been very successful. We are currently creating another development, Shopping Promenade Claye-Souilly, near Paris for them using similar principles in a stronger way, with a different mix for the different context. For the Amiens development, we were creating 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 interesting addition to the French retail scene when it opens in September 2019.

 

Another project is small (less than 3,000 m²) but quite interesting, involving 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 people in the city.

 

We have been involved in a number of motorway service station designs also, which includes an element of retail but is largely about creating a functional service environment. We have partnered with a large French motorway services company, Elior, designing eight sites in the last decade after winning competitive bid processes. All but one have been completed, with the last one, at Orleans, currently under construction on site.

 

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. However, the retail sector is facing difficult times in France, as it is everywhere else in western Europe, so we are developing a 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.

 

There is a state-funded  new metro ring line  being built at present around Paris, with an investment of billions of Euros in advance of the 2024 Olympic Games. There will be a lot of investment in infrastructure, and, therefore, a lot of property investment too. In order to position ourselves well, we need to be able to show that we are talented and innovative designers who can produce something special.

 

Tell us about the Paris studio lab

We felt that we needed to develop an in-house lab to show potential clients the extent of our research and understanding of cutting-edge developments in the real estate market. The aim is to show them our creativity and innovation, helping us to differentiate ourselves in a very competitive market. Though the lab is led by our feasibility team, we try to involve everyone in the office in the work, and we hold informal meetings once or twice a month where everyone can exchange ideas.

 

The lab is where we ask questions about housing, workplaces, mixed-use developments or transportation, for example on how the end-user will experience a particular building scheme. We aim to produce a case study design every month or two which must produce an innovative solution to the question being asked, yet be realistic and commercially applicable. We then produce newsletters which we circulate to clients and others talking about our findings and lessons we draw from them. We think it is a good way to showcase Chapman Taylor’s creative talent while providing the team with motivation.

 

What do you foresee for Chapman Taylor in France?

I think the main challenge will to be to diversify, so that we are as well known for residential and office design as we currently are for retail. The future will be mixed-use, with few developments not having at least two or three different component uses. Standalone retail is about to become a thing of the past, and so it is healthy to be able to design beyond the retail.

 

Transportation is a sector in which we are very interested, particularly airports (outside Paris – Charles de Gaulle Airport has its own in-house architectural team). 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, we are well placed to become involved in this thriving sector.

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 or so. 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 the internet is transforming the retail market, and retailers are having to adapt their business models very quickly. Each development context is different, and we have to 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 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 that client, with the Paris studio focusing on working with the local authority in designing the public areas around the development. The sharing of responsibility between the Brussels and Paris studios has been very successful for that client, and we look to work closely on more projects in the future.

Passages Pasteur is a mixed-use urban regeneration project within an historic conservation of Besançon. Footfall is 20% higher than expected fter 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 Frey Group, called Shopping Promenade Coeur Picardie, which has been very successful. We are currently creating another development, Shopping Promenade Claye-Souilly, near Paris for them using similar principles in a stronger way, with a different mix for the different context. For the Amiens development, we were creating 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 interesting addition to the French retail scene when it opens in September 2019.

Another project is small (less than 3,000 m²) but quite interesting, involving 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 people in the city.

We have been involved in a number of motorway service station designs also, which include an element of retail. We have partnered with a large French motorway services company, Elior, designing eight sites in the last decade after winning a competitive bid processes. All but one have been completed, with the last one, at Orleans, currently under construction on site.

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 felt that we needed to develop an in-house research lab to demonstrate to potential clients the extent of our understanding of cutting-edge developments in the real estate market. The aim is to show them our creativity and innovation, helping us to differentiate ourselves in a very competitive market. Though the lab is led by our feasibility team, we try to involve everyone in the office in the work, and we hold informal meetings once or twice a month where everyone can exchange ideas.

The lab is where we ask questions about housing, workplaces, mixed-use developments or transportation, for example on how the end-user will experience a particular building scheme. We aim to produce a case study design every month or two which must produce an innovative solution to the question being asked, yet be realistic and commercially applicable. We then produce newsletters which we circulate to clients and others talking about our findings and lessons we draw from them. We think it is a good way to showcase Chapman Taylor’s creative talent while providing the team with motivation.

What do you foresee for Chapman Taylor in France?

The future of developments 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 the 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 expand into this thriving sector.

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

董事, 巴黎

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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