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Is Paris Home to the World’s Largest Coworking Space?

PARIS – The alternative workspace industry has given rise to unique coworking concepts, from women-only to attorneys-only to coworking office space childcare and beyond. But a new incubator in France may top them all.

With a surface area of over 30,000 square meters, a new business incubator – being billed as the world’s largest and challenging the U.S.-based 500 Startups – will be a unique working space that aims to promote emerging talent.

“The Municipality of Paris has officially announced plans for a massive startup incubator to be located in La Halle Freyssinet, a former shipping and freight center,” explains Kristin Nozell at PSFK.com. “The space, which is currently used as a conference center, will be transformed into a 30,000-square-meter space dedicated to innovative new ventures.”

Dubbed 1,000 Startups, the concept will be home to dedicated office spaces designed to offer entrepreneurs a sense of freedom as well as the opportunity to meet each other and share knowledge and ideas.

Specifically, the workspace will include coworking areas, a fablab, a large auditorium, meeting rooms, large workspaces, and a bar-restaurant that’s open 24 hours a day. Jean-Michel Wilmotte’s design for the new site is structured around container-based architecture, which not only recalls the building’s railroad past but also serves to incite knowledge-sharing, discussion, and healthy competition.

“As impressive as the space appears, the construction won’t begin until 2014, and many details are – unsurprisingly – not yet public,” says Stan Alcorn, a staff writer at Co.Exist. “But given its scale, it’s hard to imagine the human-intensive ‘incubating’ that happens at, say, Y-Combinator, taking place on such a scale.”

French entrepreneur and businessman Xavier Niel and French financial organization Caisse des Depots are financing the project. The business incubator, though, isn’t set to open until 2016.