The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, had a full two-day programme in Paris on July 19 and 20 (Paris time), meeting senior French officials and visiting a number of urban regeneration and heritage projects in the city.
She met the Minister for the City responsible for the Grand Paris project, Mr Maurice Leroy, to understand this visionary and large-scale urban planning project launched by President Nicolas Sarkozy to make the French capital a competitive metropolis on a world scale, creating wealth and jobs. The project seeks to redraw the capital city's urban area and re-organise its transport network, aiming at reducing transport times and striking a better balance between nature and the urban environment. The project is targeted for completion by the year 2030.
Mrs Lam also met the Secretary of State for Housing, Mr Benoist Apparu, in the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing to exchange views on urban planning policies. To see for herself a major urban redevelopment project, she visited the La Défense business district, which is the largest purpose-built office district in Europe, with more than 80 skyscrapers developed around its iconic 110-metre-high Grande Arche providing space for housing, offices and other uses.
On the heritage side, Mrs Lam visited La Gaîté Lyrique to learn about the effort of the City Council of Paris to revitalise this historic theatre constructed in 1862. A large-scale project was launched in 2004 to convert and renovate the building into a new institution dedicated to all forms of digital culture - filmmaking, graphic design, music, visual arts, etc. The institution, with exhibition space, a library and an auditorium, as well as studios equipped with advanced digital media technologies, opened its doors to the public in March this year.
She also went to the Docks en Seine, where innovative renovation work is under way to convert this 100-year-old concrete industrial establishment into a centre devoted to the promotion and development of the fashion and design industries. The project, to be opened in phases shortly, will provide a fashion museum, exhibition space and restaurants, as well as a marketplace for selling and showcasing the products of fashion designers.
She also toured the Shangri-La Hotel Paris to see how this historic building constructed in 1896 was preserved and revitalised as a high-end hotel. The hotel was opened six months ago.
Mrs Lam also received a briefing on Paris' tramway service and took a 20-minute ride on a tram to experience its smooth and efficient operation.
During her stay in Paris, Mrs Lam paid courtesy calls on the Chinese Ambassador to France, Mr Kong Quan, and the Deputy Mayor of Paris, Mr Pierre Schapira.
She had a lunch meeting with a group of French architects who are members of the French Architects Overseas. The association, with more than 200 architects and engineers as members, seeks to promote French architecture and urban management throughout the world. Mrs Lam briefed them on the latest economic and infrastructural developments in Hong Kong, including heritage conservation projects and the initiative to encourage wholesale conversion and redevelopment of industrial buildings in Hong Kong.
Ends/Thursday, July 21, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:15