Landscape architect behind Princess Diana memorial commissioned for €70m Paris 'green lung' around Eiffel Tower

James Rothwell
Armed French soldiers of the 35th RAP (35e regiment d'artillerie parachutiste), part of Operation Sentinelle, patrol under at the Eiffel tower in Paris - AFP

The Eiffel Tower could soon loom over an enormous new garden at the heart of the city under proposals from the mayor of Paris.

Anne Hidalgo has announced plans to transform the passage linking Trocadero Square to the Eiffel Tower into a pedestrianised "green corridor" by 2024.

The project, expected to cost around  €70m (£60m), follows Ms Hidalgo's pledge to crack down on pollution in the City of Lights and free its streets from gas-guzzling cars.

"Rethinking this site was the obvious thing to do and it's the right time," Ms Hidalgo told French media on Wednesday. 

"The Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris but also of France. We had to think about what this place would become in 5, 10 or 15 years.

"Paris has to keep the international leadership on the environmental issue. In a very dense city, you also need large breathing spaces." 

The corridor was designed by Kathryn Gustafson, an American landscape architect at British firm Gustafson Porter + Bowman,  who is also the co-creator of the Princess Diana fountain in London. The project will be completed just before France hosts the Olympic Games later the same year. 

"We’re creating the largest garden in Paris, with much more biodiversity, much more ecology,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.

The project has two stages, with a second green corridor connecting the opposite side of the Eiffel tower to the Ecole Militaire district due to be finished by 2030.

The Eiffel Tower is not the only landmark French authorities are rushing to transform before the Olympics.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has vowed to fully repair the Notre-Dame cathedral in time for the games, after its roof and spire were destroyed in a fire. 

The fire led to a fierce debate in France as to whether the restoration should be an exact copy of the cathedral's former glory or incorporate modern themes. 

Among the more eccentric, early proposals was turning Notre-Dame's roof into a giant swimming pool.