Posts tagged with "France":

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French artist Julien Salaud creates enchanting constellations from thread coated in UV paint

Awe-inspiring and mystic, French artist Julien Salaud’s constellation-like thread art evokes teeming scenes of nature, mythologies, and prehistoric cave paintings. And lasers. Polygonal representations of birds of prey in flight, freshwater fish, deer, a human draped in the regalia of a forest god, bears, and felines arc over the walls and ceilings with arresting abandon. The artist’s spider web–like world of constellations glows with threads coated in UV paint visible only under UV light. The threads are knotted around nails embedded in precise positions on the walls and ceilings of the gallery. Salaud is a trained biochemist who spent 10 years gathering data on the impact of human activity on wildlife in the French Guyana. When he defected to the art world after cottoning on that he and science were not “compatible,” wildlife continued to be the muse of his etchings, drawings and sculptures, which are loosely architected around Ernst Cassier’s definition of of man as animal symbolicum, describing man as entrapped by symbols and meanings of his own creation. Salaud’s twilight zone between dreams and reality, observable only in darkness, was produced during an art class held by the artist at Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art with Israeli art school graduates and selected artists from the Museum’s educational staff.
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Pictorial> Twenty-one of the best pavilions from Milan Expo 2015

Milano Expo 2015 is rolling along, with 145 countries and a host of international organizations, civil society organizations, and corporations displaying their food-centric traditions and the latest sustainable agriculture and food production techniques. AN reported on the Expo when it opened:

a handful of designs...stand out as attempts to rethink the way we build and how it relates to modern agriculture and sustainable food production for the next century. Most of the pavilions use sustainable materials and construction methods that utilize national building techniques. Inside, exhibitions—often interactive—showcase biodiversity, culture, and food traditions of each nation.

Beyond the focus on food and agriculture, there is also a wealth of eye-catching architecture at the Milan Expo as well. Here is a collection of some of our favorite pavilions from this year's rendition. And be sure to check out our coverage of the Expo here.
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An architect from Vancouver wants to build the world’s tallest wooden skyscraper over a roadway in Paris

Back in March, AN wrote about Rüdiger Lainer and Partners' plan to construct a wood skyscraper in Vienna. The so-called HoHo project would rise 276 feet and be about three-quarters wood. Now, Vancouver-based architect Michael Green, whose eponymous firm is behind “the tallest mass timber building in the United States” has proposed a timber tower for Paris that would be 10 stories taller—making it the tallest such structure on earth. That is, if it gets built. The tower is part of a mixed-use scheme called "Baobab" that Michael Green Architecture (MGA), along with Paris-based DVVD and developer REI France, submitted to Réinventer Paris—a city-sponsored competition that asked architects to propose "innovative urban projects" at one of 23 sites across town. MGA and its teammates went with Pershing, an under-utilized site that the competition says "will be at the heart of the Porte Maillot renewal operation, a strategic part of Greater Paris, linking the central business district with La Défense.” Along with the wood tower, which MGA says is carbon neutral, Baobab has a mix of market-rate and subsidized housing, a hotel for students, agricultural facilities, a bus station, and an e-car hub. The development would span across an eight-lane roadway. “Our goal is that through innovation, youthful social contact and overall community building, we have created a design that becomes uniquely important to Paris,” said Michael Green, Principal of MGA, in a statement.  “Just as Gustave Eiffel shattered our conception of what was possible a century and a half ago, this project can push the envelope of wood innovation with France in the forefront. The Pershing Site is the perfect moment for Paris to embrace the next era of architecture.” Shortlisted proposals are expected to be announced this summer, so we will have to wait until then to see if Baobab has a chance of taking shape. [h/t CBC News]
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Wispy-looking design for Herzog & de Meuron’s new Bordeaux stadium features 900 slim columns

A new Bordeaux stadium by architects Herzog & de Meuron debunks the hulking typology of a sporting facility. The architect compares the “elegant” and “lightweight”-looking design to a “classic temple,” which doesn’t seem all that hyperbolic. Surrounded by 900 slim columns on all four sides supporting a sharp-edged rectangular roof, the 42,000-seat stadium is composed of two superposed tiers divided into four sections. The entire seating area is shielded from rain and shine by a semi-translucent roof canopy. Photographs show unusually lavish legroom between each row of seats. The stadium structure itself is composed of three key elements: the bowl, raised above ground level, for games and spectators, the concourse as a transition between the playing field and its external surroundings, as well as the external landscape itself. The latter fell under the ministrations of French landscape architect Michel Desvigne, who created an area for community sporting activities as well as a children’s playground. “Special attention was paid to the integration of the structure into the grand landscape,” Herzog & De Meuron said in a statement. Rather than taking aesthetic cues from the historic city center of Bordeaux Lac, the firm based its designs on the willowy pine trees of the Landes Forest located south of the city. Between the matchstick forest of columns throughout the stadium weaves a “ribbon-like” structure designed to accommodate food stalls and toilet facilities around the perimeter of the building. “Its purity and geometrical clarity inspire a sense of monumentality and gracefulness,” said Herzog & De Meuron. “One might be tempted to draw a comparison with a classical temple, but unlike the elevated plinth of a temple, the grand stairs of the stadium blur the boundaries between the inside and the outside.” The Swiss firm won a competition in 2011 to design the facility, with work commencing in 2013. Set to be the home stadium of French football team FC Girondins de Bordeaux and host to five matches during the 2016 European Football Championships, the stadium was recently inaugurated ahead of its first football match.
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Electricity-generating Wind Trees will power Paris’ Place de la Concorde

The power grid of the future may consist entirely of trees—and we don’t mean biofuel. French R&D company New Wind recently pioneered the “wind tree,” a wind turbine that is both silent and soothing to behold. While wind turbines are ordinarily thought to be noisy and unsightly, the “Arbre à vent” developed by French entrepreneur Jerôme Michaud-Larivière resembles modern art’s sculptural interpretation of a tree. The biomorphically-inspired contraption features 72 electricity-generating leaves oriented vertically along a white steel frame approximating tree branches.   Made of lightweight plastic treated with element-resistant resin, the leaves can harness winds as light as 4.4 miles per hour, enabling the turbine to continue generating power for 280 days per year, factoring in climate vacillations. Despite this keen sensitivity, the turbine is designed to withstand Category 3 gusts (wind speeds of up to 129 miles per hour). At 26-by-36 feet the “wind tree” is no taller than the average tree, and camouflages with the landscape instead of being a looming presence. Each rotating leaf contains a generator with a capacity of 3.1 kilowatts of electricity—a modest amount, but a streetscape lined with wind trees could rack up enough juice to power all nearby street lights or a small apartment, according to EarthTechling. The circuitry is wired in parallel and each generator is sealed in protective casing so that the breakdown of one leaf does not gum the system. Meanwhile, the company is replicating the plant-inspired design template in a scaled-down "wind bush" currently in the works and "foliage" as a  wind power catch-all on rooftops and balconies and along roadsides to power variable-message signs. From May through the following March, a demonstrator tree will be installed at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, a major public square, to introduce it to the general public, after which 40 more wind trees will be installed around the country. While prototypes have been installed on select private properties, the item will not be mass produced until summer 2016, and even then will be available only in France and nearby European countries. Each wind tree is slated to retail for approximately $36,500 apiece—slightly more expensive than the traditional 10-kilowatt turbine, which costs an average of $30,000 including installation.
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On View> The Louvre opens major restoration of its Decorative Arts Galleries

If you like French decorative arts you should make your way this summer to the Louvre's newly restored and reinstalled 18th century Decorative Arts Galleries. The collection is housed in 35 galleries spanning 23,000 square feet. Over 2,000 design pieces "in object-focused galleries and period-room settings" are on display. The architect for the restoration was  Michel Goutal, the Louvre’s senior historical monument architect (with technical assistance provided by the Louvre’s Department of Project Planning and Management). In addition, there is an American connection to the restoration of the galleries. The American Friends of the Louvre (AFL)—who famously helped restore a "secret" Versailles water garden several years ago—played a vital role in the renovation by raising $4 million in support of the project and one of its key period rooms, the restoration of l’Hôtel Dangé-Villemaré drawing room. This space has not been exhibited in its entirety since its 19th-century acquisition by the Louvre. The AFL also raised funds for the restoration and first ever public presentation of a magnificent cupola painted by Antoine François Callet which will be installed in the galleries and for the English-language edition of the book of the Louvre’s decorative arts collection whose publication will celebrate the opening.
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French Artist Turns Iconic Architecture into Quirky Animated GIF’s

The French “GIF artist”—welcome to the 21st century, everybody—Axel de Stampa has officially made time-lapse videos look like child’s play. In his new project, Animated Architecture, de Stampa spins, shifts, tops, and deconstructs some of the most visually distinctive contemporary buildings—all in endlessly entertaining GIF format. "In Architecture Animée, Axel de Stampa uses GIF format to develop a different approach. While the visitor doesn’t move, the building offers different perceptions, comes alive and reveals additional evidence," explained the artist in a statement. [h/t ArchDaily]
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Sands of Time: How an Architect Commemorates D-Day’s 70-Year Anniversary

Donald Weber is a former architect turned visual media artist. His latest project, War Sand, is a series of microscopic photographs that depict pieces of shrapnel embedded in individual grains of sand along the beaches of Normandy. Each photograph—which takes over eight hours for Weber to produce—is a testimony to one of the most famous days in history, as well as to the relationship between art and science. "I like the idea that through science, art can reveal itself," Weber told Texas arts blog Glasstire. "And through art, science can reveal itself." In War Sand, both elements are certainly present. Physicist Kevin Robbie helped produce the photographs by using a powerful magnet to withdraw the shrapnel bits from the sand samples. The extracted metals were placed underneath a microscope, where Weber’s original theory—that shrapnel remained on Normandy’s beaches—was proven true. The sand grains that “housed” the shrapnel were then color coded to identify the types of metals embedded in the beach seventy years ago. The selected color palette—blue, green, and yellow—matches the natural colors found on the beach. One photograph depicts what looks like an artillery shell but is actually a diatom, or the casing built by ocean algae. Since diatoms feed off iron, Robbie posits that the iron this particular diatom fed from was in fact a shrapnel remnant from D-Day. “Ultimately,” Robbie said to Glasstire, “this remnant from this battle that killed many people is providing nutrients to a form of life decades and decades later.” The project as a whole demonstrates an amazing symbiosis between technology and art, but also of nature’s ability to rebuild itself after the intrusion of mankind. As Weber noted, "History never goes away. There's always a trace here or a remnant there.” At the project’s completion, Weber hopes to compile all the photographs into a book.

Eiffel Tower’s New “First Floor” Almost Complete

Work is almost finished on a revamped viewing platform and event space at the Eiffel Tower. While it’s called the First Floor, it’s nearly 200 feet above ground and will offer panoramic views of Paris. And for the braver visitors, it will offer views straight down as the new space has a glass-floor viewing platform. Moatti-Rivière Architects is heading up the renovation, which will include shops, restaurants, conference rooms and event spaces. The new floor will also be better suited to those with disabilities and incorporate green technologies including solar panels and the rainwater collection.
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Market-in-Training: Proposal Would Transform Paris’ Abandoned Railroad

Paris is known in part for its numerous quaint outdoor markets offering foodstuffs and vintage objects. It is also home to an—if not quaint, at least fairly aged—abandoned railway system, the Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture. Two enterprising architects have now proposed combining the idea behind the former retail markets and the infrastructure of the latter to create a traveling market that would circle the city center. Despite their surface appeal, Paris' street markets leave problematic amounts of trash in their wake and are prone to impeding the prevalent bicycle traffic within the city. Amílcar Ferreira and Marcelo Fernandes saw the long-abandoned railroad as a perfect solution to address these issues. The two propose reviving the tracks, last in operation in 1934, and using them as a platform for a train re-purposed as a site for commerce and bartering, with various cars providing storefronts, workshops, and utility services for local vendors. The train would also offer rides to visitors as it itinerates between various locations within Paris's fortified walls. The proposal was conceived as a submission to the 2013 M.ART opengap competition.
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Historic Train Station in Paris To Become World’s Largest Start-Up Incubator

Paris has its answer to Silicon Valley, with plans to convert an historic train station into the world's largest home for digital entrepreneurship. Architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte has been entrusted to rehabilitate the landmark building, situated on the southern bank of the river Seine, into a technological hub to accommodate 1,000 start-up companies by the year 2016. The new Halle Freyssinet building will be structured around modular container-based architecture, a nod to the cargo train heritage of the building, and will provide a range of business functions including meeting rooms, spacious co-working areas, a large auditorium, a fab-lab (workshop to create digital prototypes) and a 24-hour restaurant and bar. The ambitious venture is made possible through the Municipality of Paris with joint financing by Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and French entrepreneur, Xavier Nile. If all goes to plan, the new digital incubator will strengthen France's presence and competitiveness in the tech enterprise market by cultivating an open space for entrepreneurs to grow and share ideas. "Paris is a magical city, a city that attracts people from around the world and where a real energy around digital is developing. But young companies that want to settle there are faced with a lack of affordable, practical and high-speed equipped places."  Xavier Niel told the newspaper Journal du Dimanche.
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BIG Wins Competition for Museum of the Human Body in Montpellier, France

A team led by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has won an international design completion for the new Museum of the Human Body in Montpellier, France. Recalling the forms of some of BIG’s other recent projects, most notably Blaavard Bunker Museum in Varde, Denmark (which has just received funding to move forward) and the 200-acre EuropaCity mega-development outside Paris, the 84,000 square foot museum will rise from the surrounding landscape with grass-capped roofs, and a seemingly continuous, curving glass façade. Set to open to the public in 2018, the museum will draw on Montpellier’s history of medicine and humanism as it explores the human body through artistic, scientific, and social perspectives with interactive exhibits, cultural programming, workshops, and performances. Located along the edge of Parc Georges Charpak in the city’s newly developed Parc Marianne area, the museum stitches the landscapes of park and city through eight, rounded, interconnected pavilions that, in the words of the architect, “weave together to for a unified institution–like individual fingers united together in mutual grip”. “Like the mixture of two incompatible substances–oil and vinegar–the urban pavement and the parks turf flow together in mutual embrace forming terraced pockets overlooking the park and elating islands above the city,” explained Ingels in a statement. Above ground, alternating roof gardens of pavement and grass provide spaces for visitors to, in the increasingly strange words of the architect, “explore and express their bodies in various ways.” Meanwhile, a continuous, linear space below grade joins together the eight volumes, maximizing internal connections. To extend Ingels’ finger metaphor and provide appropriate day-lighting for the interior, the building’s glass facade is covered in GFRC-fabricated louvers of varying orientations that somewhat resemble the pattern of human fingerprints. Construction is slated to begin in 2016.