All projects
Former deportation station Bobigny · Bobigny, France

Memory in the city

A new memorial park revealing the history of the Deportation of Jews from France


In Bobigny, the landscape has been given a role as a narrator and curator of the history of the place. The complex layered history is depicted in a layered way similarly to what one would find in a memorial park and thus takes the visitor by the hand into the past.

Between 1943 and summer of 1944, around 22.500 men, women and children were deported from the Bobigny station, making this site one of the most important sites of the deportation of French Jews during the second world war. After the war, the site was turned into a steel scrap yard and stayed in use until the mid 2000’s. Paradoxically, the industrial activity is what has protected the site for decades and allowed it to survive major urban transformations and evolutions. The Bobigny station is one of the only deportation places in France that was preserved after the second world war.

Bobigny, France
2016 - 2023
Project area
3 ha
Ville de Bobigny
Photography credits
Karolina Samborska, Aitor Ortiz, Pierre Marchevet

With the help of numerous partners, institutions and foundations, the city of Bobigny later managed to acquire the site and start the long process to create a memorial place. As leader of the design team consisting of AAPP Architects, OTCE Engineering, AEU Ecologists and 8’18 Lighting Designers, we won the international competition for the landscape, architectural and scenographic enhancement of the site in 2016.


Revealing the absence, the thresholds of memory

The scenography and landscape interventions have been conceived to reduce the impact on the site to the minimum, to celebrate the absence and the emptiness of the site. The design reveals the original topography of the site, connecting the various levels by a scenographic route and series of thresholds. It allows a gradual experience for the visitors through different time layers and degrees of understanding of the place and its history.

Creator of meaningful places
Express the historical layers
Respectful and measured interventions
Preserve, amend en enrich the post-industrial biotope
Welcoming and guiding the public
Revealing the site to the city

Visitors are welcome through the original address on the Avenue towards the Esplanade of the present. This space is conceived as a place of mediation between present and past, between city and historical grounds. Careful incisions have been made in the topography of the platform created after the war by the metal scrap dealer to reveal the historical path of the ramp and create views towards the landmarks of the site. A sequence of wooden benches bearing engravings of quotes and messages from witnesses and deportees allow visitors to connect with the human impact of the deportation process. The garden of the esplanade offers a soothing vegetation reminiscent of the Jewish traditions and Mediterranean palette.


A place for remembrance

A long row of 75 steles made from cor-ten steel have been installed to commemorate the different deportation convoys. Based on the records and documentation set up by Serge Klarsfeld, each of them present dates, places of departure and arrival, numbers of people, children, and survivors. The steles allow visitors to grasp the inhuman scale of the deportation machine set up by Nazi Germans and the number of victims.

Creator of meaningful places

At the centre of the site, on the historical rail tracks, a humble steel platform has been installed. It serves as a central point for commemorations and marks by its dimensions the phantom of a wagon, providing a sense of scale despite the absence and the emptiness of the site. On the backdrop of the long concrete wall, poured after the war by the steel scrap dealer, a quote by famous poet Paul Eluard has been engraved: “Si l’écho de leur voix faiblit, nous périrons”, meaning ‘If the echo of their voices weakens, we will perish’.


Living heritage, a symbol for resilience

The extensive size of the goods yard is unique in that it is home to several regionally significant pioneer plant species. A new post-industrial biotope developed after the closure of the scrap yard. The design showcases the site’s ecological qualities with a targeted maintenance plan and an integrated system of stormwater vegetated swales, strengthening the already rich biodiversity present on the site. The landscape of the station forms a living heritage that complements the memorial and historical aspects of the site and embodies the resilience of men and nature above violence and discrimination.

Creator of meaningful places

Discover other projects