(Paris) Will the balconies of Parisian buildings be strong enough to support the clusters of people who are likely to crowd there during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games? This question was recently raised by real estate professionals with the authorities who are working on the idea of launching a vast verification operation.
Entire families massed on balconies, with friends invited for the occasion, enjoying the spectacle of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on the Seine which the organizers are planning to be grandiose… These scenes are likely to multiply in the capital on the evening of July 26.
“This is clearly a scenario that is likely to happen. And it is absolutely necessary to ensure that the balconies can support the weight and above all that the guardrails are perfectly sealed to avoid any incident,” explains the president of the National Real Estate Federation (FNAIM) Grand Paris to AFP. , Olivier Princivalle.
Falls, sometimes fatal, either due to faulty guardrails or collapsing balconies, regularly punctuate the news pages. In 2016, four people died after a balcony collapsed during a party in an apartment in Angers.
In May 2023, in Paris, two people were seriously injured after falling from their balcony on 5e floor of a building located in the 13the Parisian district, after part of the balcony collapsed.
The law requires owners, social landlords or building managers to check the good state of conservation of balconies. “But there may be holes in the racket, and above all, usage risks changing suddenly and ephemerally during the Olympics,” anticipates a source close to the authorities.
“Haussmannian buildings are over 300 years old, and have balconies most often designed for 2/3 people. Possible overcrowding during the Olympics can be complicated,” adds Olivier Princivalle.
This question was raised several weeks ago during one of the preparatory meetings for the Olympic Games headed by the Paris police headquarters. “We alerted them to this subject, as a good manager,” explains Olivier Princivalle, ensuring that he raised the subject alongside the Union of Real Estate Unions (UNIS).
The Paris police headquarters also assured AFP that the subject had been “identified by professional federations”. However, not being “competent for her treatment”, she indicated that she was working “on a response with her partners”.
“We need to check that the balconies can withstand the shock,” summarizes Olivier Princivalle. But it doesn’t seem so simple. “How to check the strength of the guardrails? With rope access technicians? And the solidity of the structure? », he asks.
“Who’s going to pay the bill?” »
The federations of real estate professionals contacted the Order of Architects to “help them build a technical note on the subject that the prefecture asked us to”, explains Olivier Princivalle.
At this time, the areas of buildings in the capital that may need to be audited have not been established.
“We think a priori that the area concerned should concentrate on buildings located along the Seine. And over the 6 km, it’s already quite a bit,” predicts a source close to Paris town hall.
“We must also take into account that thanks to the security perimeters and the careful control that the prefecture has put in place, in particular on the control of access to buildings near the Seine, we are able to know quite precisely how many people will be in the apartments,” estimates this source.
A calculation which, however, seems quite complicated to make.
Another question raised was that of covering the cost of such an operation. “Who’s going to pay the bill?” The State, individuals, trustees? », asks a source close to the negotiations. There are less than six months left to find answers.