A 1920s freight station in Paris has been transformed into the world’s biggest startup campus, named Station F.
The former railway depot, previously known as La Halle Freyssinet, was opened last Thursday by French President Emmanuel Macron and will house more than 1,000 startups in a 34,000 sq m space.
Station F was designed by French architects Wilmotte and Associates and backed by entrepreneur and investor Xavier Niel. Located in Paris’ 13th arrondissement, it extends 310 metres – as long as the Eiffel Tower is high.
Roxanne Varza, director of Station F said: ‘Our goal with Station F is not only to create the largest startup campus in the world but also create a space that houses an entire startup eco system under one roof. It’s a truly ambitious international project that puts France and Europe at the forefront of the international startup map.’
Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the architect behind the design, has retained many of the depot’s original elements including the pre-stressed, reinforced concrete structure and the old shipping containers, the latter of which have been turned into meeting rooms. The result is a light, open space with an authentic, industrial feel and a nod to the building’s history.
With 3,000 work stations and a building capacity of 9,000, Station F will run over 20 international programmes and will welcome tenants from around the world.
Some €250 million has been invested in Station F, which is divided into three zones: share, create and chill. The share zone caters for events and social activity and includes a 370-seater auditorium, a brainstorming room and two areas that are open to the public – a co-working coffee shop and an innovation space. The create zone is where the startups will be based and the chill zone will focus around an Italian restaurant known as Mamma F, an outpost of the fastest growing restaurant company in France, Big Mamma Group.
Entrepreneurs who become part of Station F’s Founders Program can get a desk for €195 per month. Or they can apply for free desk space with the Fighters Program, open to those ‘who have a killer entrepreneurial mindset and a business with potential, but weren’t born in a privileged environment’.
Station F will also launch a co-living hub for entrepreneurs 10 minutes away on Ivry-sur-Seine in 2018. Three towers will house 100 apartments for 600 entrepreneurs at ‘affordable and flexible’ rates.