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Posts Tagged ‘urbanism’

The exhibition dedicated to Grand Paris currently held at la
Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine untill November 22nd is a must see for whoever is interested in the future of Paris and its region.

grand_paris_cite

10 teams of architects were asked by President Sarkozy to present their projects for Paris in the next 20 years. This exhibition reveals the results of their intense cogitations. These teams are multidisciplinary and include architects, landscapers, sociologists, philosophers, research laboratories, etc. Three of these teams are international.

These proposals aim at finding creative solutions for the challenges that Paris will have to face in the near future such as providing a better transportation system, improving housing conditions, overcoming the boundaries that cuts Paris from its suburbs, reinforcing Paris weight in the global economy, and making it post-Kyoto compatible.

The spirit of this exhibition reminds me of one of May 68 catchphrase “l’imagination au pouvoir” (“let imagination rule“). The boundaries of Paris are certainly easier to identify than the limits of most architects minds. The good (and less good) ideas featured are so numerous that it would be vain for me to try to expose them all here. Instead, I will give a shortlist of my likes and dislikes.

Likes:

  • Creating a Central Park in la Courneuve (Roland Castro). I would feel like visiting Seine-St-Denis at least once in my life. In fact, I enjoyed listening to Roland Castro video presentation, both poetic and political, and I am quite seduced when he insists on finding ways to improve the sense of belonging to one’s place.
  • Building “vertical eco-estates” with mixed use (Jean Nouvel). I love scryscrapers provided they are elegantly designed and harmoniously set in the urban landscape. Unfortunately, many towers in France owe more to Stalinian architecture than to Manhattan towers.
  • Merging Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est into a new station in Aubervilliers and linking it to the historic center by a green route (Portzamparc).
  • A 7km Park between Gare du Nord and St Denis containing amenities and housing that crosses the Périphérique via landscaped or inhabited bridges (Richard Rogers). An interesting attempt to cure a city whose “heart is so separate from the limbs”.

grand_paris_jaime

Dislikes:

  • A new overhead metro running above boulevard Périphérique (Portzamparc). Why not just simply rehabilitate the Petite ceinture instead ?
  • Creating a continuous city along the Seine river between Paris and Le Havre (Antoine Grumbach). Though Napoleon himself stated “Paris, Rouen, Le Havre, une seule et même ville dont la Seine est la grande rue” (“Paris-Rouen-Le Havre: one single city with the Seine as its main road“), I am more prone to trust Bonaparte’s strategic skills than his sense of pre-surrealistic poetry.
  • Building a tower on square du Vert galant (Roland Castro). The mere idea of it is a crime de lèse-urbanisme !

grand_paris_rouen_havre_seine

All in all, I would say this exhibition is a very good way to stimulate your imagination and will provide a long list of subjects to feed your conversations de dîners en ville.

However, be aware that this event is successful. So if you want to be à la page, come early ! Indeed, the length of the queue waiting in front of the Palais de Chaillot last Saturday afternoon may indicate the concern of Parisians for the future of their city as well as their propensity to chose indoor activities during rainy weekends.

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