Posts tagged with "Paris":

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French researcher "quarries" on site for a new type of recycling and restoration

“The mass-production of rubble constitutes one of modern architecture’s main legacies,” said the French designer and researcher Anna Saint Pierre. So much of what gets built gets demolished, or decays and needs to be restored or renovated. She explained that “The building sector accounts for 50 percent of natural resource consumption and almost 40 percent of waste production within European territories.” To help combat this waste she’s developed a new technique of in-situ recycling called Granito. The concept is to “quarry” materials on-site, taking stone from surrounding demolished structures and pulverizing it for use in new aggregates—by reusing these materials on location there’s no need for transportation. An architect at the French firm SCAU, Saint Pierre is putting Granito to the test on one of the office’s Paris projects. Saint Pierre’s proposal is to take 182 tons of unwanted granite panels from the extant structure, an office block also designed by the firm and opened in 1997 as the headquarters of Télédiffusion de France, and grind, sort, and reincorporate the material into terrazzo floors for the new building, a co-working space. Saint Pierre says that the granite and terrazzo floors, visible from the street, will act as “a fifth facade.” In addition to working to create terrazzo, she’s also been using in-situ recycling to create gabion walls, including for a future housing project. Since announcing Granito earlier this year, Saint Pierre has worked to tweak the process to become more energy efficient. “This project highlights the impact that the ever-shortening life of tertiary real estate programs has on the life and death cycle of the materials used,” Saint Pierre said. In this manner, Granito is not just a practical solution, but also a commentary on issues of architectural preservation. “Granito investigates new modes of memory transmission through [the] in-situ transformation of rubble,” she explains. “It’s an alternative to both ‘tabula rasa’ approaches or strict restoration.” Granito, “investigates site-specific loops of remembrance,” and understanding just what “in situ” might mean in this context is key to understanding the purpose of Granito. It’s about “the existing site, its memory, and its mutation.”
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Jean Nouvel sues Philharmonie de Paris over $189.5 million fine

The Philharmonie de Paris was infamously over budget and two years behind schedule when it opened in January 2015. Two years later, the Philharmonie issued a $189.5 million fine against Jean Nouvel, the building's Pritzker Prize-winning architect, for his failure to deliver the project on-time and on-budget. Earlier this week, Nouvel filed a lawsuit against his former client claiming that the fines were “unprecedented in the world of architecture” and “totally disproportionate,” according to the Guardian The project was initially budgeted for $217 million in 2006 but ballooned to $419 million by the time it was complete. The publicly-financed concert hall, which was built in the lower-income and largely-immigrant 19th arrondissement, has meanwhile become synonymous with extravagance and oversight in public works.  Nouvel was outspoken about his opposition to the concert hall during its construction, going as far as suing to have his name taken off the project and boycotting the opening. His unsuccessful 2015 lawsuit claimed that building had radically shifted from the original design and that his firm was not responsible for the project nearly doubling in price.  Nouvel’s lawyers, William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth, told the Guardian that the Paris Philharmonie was unreasonably holding Nouvel’s firm, Atelier Jean Nouvel, solely responsible for the delays and budget issues. Nouvel has continuously maintained that the project overran its budget for reasons outside his firm’s control.  "I affirm that in no case was I at the origin of any cost overrun on this project. The public report of Cour des Comptes of February 2012 evokes 'poor piloting,' 'many delays related to the fluctuations of the public arbitrations' which 'obviously influenced the cost of the operation,'” he wrote in a statement boycotting the opening of the Paris Philharmonie. "The public report of the French Senate of October 17th, 2012 evokes 'initial underestimated costs' before the launching of the competition and specifies the main reasons of overruns, which have nothing to do with me.” 
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Centre Pompidou to expand with satellite "art factory" in suburban Paris

The Centre Pompidou has announced plans to expand beyond its main campus in central Paris, opting for a new “art factory” space in Massy, Essonne, a southwest suburb. While no architect for the project has been named, the 22,000-square-meter facility is expected to open in 2025. In a statement obtained by The Art Newspaper, Centre Pompidou officials described the new space as “both a center of excellence for the conservation and restoration of the works in the collection, and a new cultural and creative venue deeply rooted in its territory.” It will also feature a 2,500-square-meter facility reserved for live performances, conferences, and screenings, all organized in partnership with various groups. Backed by the French state, among other investors, the art factory curators will collaborate regularly with scholars from the nearby University Paris-Saclay. The existing Centre Pompidou complex houses the Bibliothèque publique d'information (Public Information Library, the IRCAM (Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics and Music), and the Musée National d'Art Moderne, the largest modern art museum in Europe. One of the key elements of the expansion will be the movement of 120,000 works from the latter museum's collection to the new satellite. Reserve works will be partially accessible to visitors, allowing for a new and direct kind of interaction with the museum’s extensive collection. The announcement came as the Centre Pompidou continues to expand. Its David Chipperfield-designed outpost in Shanghai, called Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum, is set to open next month. Another branch, designed by Shigeru Ban Architects, opened in Metz, France, in 2010. The original complex, in the Beaubourg area of central Paris, was completed in 1977. Designed by Renzo Piano, Richard Rodgers, and Gianfranco Franchini, the Centre Pompidou was revered by the 2007 Pritzker jury for “transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city.”
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Gerard & Kelly draped Villa Savoye in flesh to explore modernism's sensuality

Multidisciplinary artists Gerard & Kelly’s Modern Living is a dance performance that has been presented in a series of famous modern houses, including Philip Johnson’s Glass House, the Schindler House, and Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. This dance troupe cavorts through the spaces of each house to explore, in their words “intimacy and domestic space within legacies of modernist architecture.” There is additionally an emphasis on an exploration of “queer space,” where voyeurism and exhibitionism are uncovered through the interaction between the dancers through the transparency of the rooms they explore. The latest incarnation of Modern Living ran from September 28 through October 6 in Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, completed in 1930 in Poissy, a suburb of Paris. Probably his most famous house, at the time it was an astoundingly radical image of a floating white pavilion elevated on thin columns above the flat lawn below. It is shocking even now, and reminds us of Frank Lloyd Wright’s comment that “human houses should not be like boxes blazing in the sun.” It was a complete rejection of all things Beaux Arts and classical. Where a house was rooted firmly on the ground, this modernist villa hovered above; in place of small windows punched into a wall, it had a continuous horizontal strip of glass; where a gable roof would provide shelter, there is a flat roof terrace of paving and plants. Compared to the excessive ornament of the Beaux Arts, and even contemporary Art Deco interiors such as that of Robert Mallet-Stevens, the Villa Savoye is abstract and stripped bare. The walls are stucco, the only ornament is the occasional highlight of a deeply saturated painted color—architecture is reduced to space, form, and light, the house is essentially as “naked” as the Greek ruins that Le Corbusier admired. Villa Savoye first appeared in Le Corbusier’s’ Complete Works in grainy black and white photos, with barely any furniture inside. The Savoye family only lived there briefly, complaining that it leaked and was uninhabitable. The interior was seen briefly in a black and white film by Pierre Chenal in 1930 along with other Le Corbusier houses and his urban plan for Paris. It was occupied by the Germans, then the Americans in World War II, and was a derelict ruin used as hay barn until its restoration from 1985-97. Since then, it has been a mysteriously empty shell and absent of dance, even though Le Corbusier’s idea was that architecture is activated by the human presence in a “promenade architecturale,” as one walks through and around the forms and spaces of the house. In this sense, Gerard & Kelly have finally brought the Villa Savoye to life, in a choreographed work that is inspired in part by the purported affair of Le Corbusier with the singer and dance sensation of the 1920s Josephine Baker. Aboard an ocean liner from Buenos Aires to France, Le Corbusier met the black, American “chanteuse” who had performed in Paris and drew her nude. The Marilyn Monroe of the 1920s, Baker captivated the imagination of Adolf Loos as well, who designed a striped house for her on a corner in Paris, although there is no evidence she ever asked him to do so. Along with Cubism’s inspiration of African masks and culture as in Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, the perceived exoticism of Baker’s singing and dance had injected new life into these two uptight, polemical architects, certainly at odds with Le Corbusier’s Swiss Calvinist background. Baker went on to aid the French Resistance and became a Civil Rights activist, speaking at Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. Taking Baker and Le Corbusier as a starting point, Gerard & Kelly’s six dancers glid, slid, sinuously snaked, and danced through the house, beginning at the entry, going up the ramp and spiral stair to the Grand Salon, then up the ramp to the roof terrace. Individually and together, singing and dancing to an insistent drumbeat, they joined to form a conga line through the master bedroom, then back down the ramp to the outside. Alongside the linear activity of the choreography, the dancers alternately formed pairs of male and female, black and white, gay and straight, gesturing to and intertwining with each other in intimate poses in relation to the internal architecture. They sporadically exposed various body parts, baring buttocks and breasts, draping themselves over the seductive curves of the spiral stair, and then outside on the roof terrace. The dance extracted the essence of the architecture as a magic box of possibility, where the audience and stage oscillate back and forth, creating an electrifying and exhilarating experience. Remarkably, at the end of the last performance, after the light rain stopped, a double rainbow emerged, a tribute not only to Gerard & Kelly’s multi-colored queer themes, but recalling da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, inscribed within the circle and square, the ultimate symbol of motion and stasis, and the harmony of architecture and humanity.  
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Gare du Nord expansion critics speak out over commercializing the train station

“Indecent,” “absurd,” and “unacceptable”—these are a few of the adjectives used by Jean Nouvel and other architects and urban planners to denounce new plans for the Gare du Nord train station renovation in Paris. Proposed by S.N.C.F Gares & Connextions, the expansion of the largest train station in Europe by 1.2 million square feet would focus heavily on duty-free mall-like commercial development targeting suburban R.E.R commuters.  While the proposed transformation is not very different from other train station trends, from the Gare Saint-Lazare renovation to London’s Liverpool Street Station, the size and scope of this project have hit a sore spot for the French public. Nouvel and others wrote and signed on to an open letter published in this Tuesday’s edition of Le Monde outlining their objections. As a city that prides itself on the beauty and vivacity of its historic monuments, any alteration on the scale of the Gare du Nord prompts scrutiny, as the city fabric becomes more and more consumer and profit-oriented.  Bernard Landau, a former deputy director of urban planning at the city of Paris, told The New York Times that “it all goes into one question. Should we transform all train stations into shopping malls?”  The plans were described as “primarily for the daily commuters, the millions of users of the R.E.R. and the suburban trains,” by Claude Solard, chief executive of S.N.C.F. in the same article. Yet these commuters, who reside in the affluent suburbs of Paris, like Versailles, are often hurrying through, going from point A to B—yet the plans were proposed to be beneficial for those who have more time to use the added “amenities.” The extant Gare du Nord has been criticized heavily in the past for its hour-long delays, and passengers won’t be appeased in the face of cancellations by having more boutiques to browse.  In addition, opponents to the plan have pointed out that the added shops will increase the pressure suburban malls and retail are already feeling, making it more difficult to attract customers.  The open letter is a new chapter in what has been an ongoing debate amongst architects and urban planners in Europe: What should a modern train station look like? A coworking space and fitness facilities are also included in the proposals, which is scheduled to begin construction in early 2020.  As the city eyes the 2024 Summer Olympics, the Gare du Nord is poised to be a major player in moving people from the Charles de Gaulle airport as well as around the city to various events, in addition to being the termination point of the international high-speed Eurostar rail service. It is not a radical idea that station planning should be focused on pedestrian flow, efficient movement, and timely departures. While an expansion and modernization of the transit hub is called for, Parisian planners are demanding that the project's priorities should be shifted and that the designers should “rethink from floor to rafters.”
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Paris will install controversial Jeff Koons gift on the Champs-Élysées

Jeff Koons’s controversial sculpture Bouquet of Tulips was first proposed as a "donation" by the artist in 2016 and has only now found a home near the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Described as a “gift of remembrance” by the artist in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the city in the years of 2015 and 2016, the gargantuan proportions, cost, and proposed core location amongst top Parisian contemporary art institutions mired the project in controversy since its original announcement.  Originally, the bouquet was proposed to be installed outside the Palais de Tokyo, a museum location very popular with tourists, with views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. However, the backlash from the public, including a published letter by the French daily newspaper Libération, swayed officials to rethink the plan.  The letter listed grievances against the installation, among them arguments that the work was conceptualized as a “symbol of memory, optimism, and recovery,” but without any relation to the tragic events or their location. The 24 signatories, all professionals within the French art and architecture scenes, including a former culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, also cited that while he was a “brilliant and inventive creator in the 1980s, Jeff Koons has since become the emblem of an industrial art,” and that a work placed in an area of such high touristic visibility would amount to “advertising or product placement.” However, other factors like the 33-ton weight of the sculpture, came in to play as well, as the basement below the site may not have been able to withstand the pressure.  Koons only donated the concept of the 40-foot-tall sculpture—a hyper-realistic hand holding 11 "balloons" resembling tulip bulbs made from stone, polished stainless steel, bronze, and aluminum—while private donations and foundations financed the actual fabrication and eventual plans for installation. The project cost an estimated $3.5 million, but French taxpayers will be tapped for the sculpture’s protection and maintenance.  During the debates over the fate of the gift, the sculpture had been sitting finished in a German warehouse. Installation was only greenlit after a trip by Koons himself to Paris on August 23rd, where in three hours, the artist, his gallerist, Jérôme and Emmanuelle de Noirmont of Noirmontartproduction, and city officials came to the locational compromise. The bouquet is set to be installed by October 5, where it will debut during Paris’ nuit blanche, the citywide annual all-night art event.  While photography is strictly prohibited throughout the installation process, two of the bulbs have already been delivered by Arnold, a celebrated German metal fabricator known for its polished metal works—and while that shine is a trademark of the American artist, the new tulips will have a matte finish, “out of respect for the French people.” 
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A new museum in Paris celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Liberation

The story of the resistants in the 1944 liberation of Paris from Nazi control is being told at a new museum opening on August 25. The Musée de la Libération celebrates two towering figures of the Resistance: Jean Moulin and Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloque—two men who never met but who both sparked local and international support for the city during the occupation.  Originally, a selection of the artifacts now on view in the museum’s permanent collection was on display in a haphazard and little-known exhibition hall in the Montparnasse district. However, with efforts directed by Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo, a more cohesive curatorial effort is now housed in a grand 18th-century mansion that was ground zero for the final days of the Resistance movement. Originally owned by Henri Rol-Tanguy, who outfitted the basement for use by Moulin, the house and its subterranean bunker have undergone a $22 million refurbishment over the past four years. It's been filled with the photographs, personal items, and letters of the resistants and its celebrated leaders, as well as from the general Parisian public.  The bunker was integral to the final days of the Resistance since its useful amenities were located 99 steps below ground. These included a pair of airtight steel doors that could be used in the event of a gas attack, a 250-line telephone exchange that could connect leaders to the police (bypassing Nazi-run lines), and a bicycle-powered electricity generator that could keep ventilation moving despite being so far underground.  All of these elements have been meticulously restored and revealed to the public in the new museum. Hanna Diamond, an expert on World War II from Cardiff University, told The Guardian that the aim of the museum's display was to be "as engaging and as accessible as possible." "There’s a real republican responsibility here,” she said. The materials collected by the museum include everything from a schoolboy’s wallet filled with ration cards to the walking stick that Leclerc was never without. The narrative told is centered around the heroic events of August 25, 1944, so it's also fitting that the museum will open its doors on the Liberation’s 75th anniversary.  “The museum’s potency is greatly enhanced by the fact that 'it all actually happened here,'" Diamond said. The Musée de la Libération sits directly across from the entrance to Paris’ famous catacombs and is poised to welcome up to 14,000 visitors per year, according to Le Monde. It will serve as a lasting monument to the stories of the resistants and their chapter of French history for years to come. 
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Widespread lead contamination stops work at Notre-Dame Cathedral

When Notre-Dame Cathedral burned on April 15, mourners elegized a wonderous building while French officials, world leaders, and architects proposed schemes—and pledged major funding—for its reconstruction. While chatter on the future of the near-ruined structure dominated media coverage, fumes from the conflagration quietly blanketed the area surrounding the cathedral with dangerous levels of lead. Now, because of that lead, construction on the site has stopped. During the fire, 450 tons of lead layered onto the cathedral's roof and spire melted, spewing particulates into the atmosphere of Paris. According to a leak that appeared on the French site Mediapart, the lead levels near Notre-Dame were a whopping 500-to-800 times over the safe level of lead, a known neurotoxin that's especially dangerous to young children. Lead levels in two area schools were on average ten times over the 70 micrograms-per-square-meter threshold that officials consider safe for the inside of educational facilities. The news has sparked outrage among residents and watchdog groups, who are dismayed by officials' seemingly blasé reaction to the possibility of lead contamination after the fire. About a month after the fire, Paris officials told school principals that their students and staff were not at risk from the fumes and resulting dust. A regional health agency, meanwhile, told residents to wipe away dust with a wet cloth (lead abatement is best left to professionals). Although no amount of lead is considered safe, health officials usually designate a safe exposure threshold. In Paris, officials adhere to a threshold of 1,000 micrograms per 10.8 square feet (one square meter) for most indoor spaces. At the schools, advocates contend that while now, the average of lead contamination across the building might fall under the 70 micrograms per square meter threshold, the contaminants in some (outdoor) schoolyards are over the 1,000 microgram safe limit, leaving young people potentially vulnerable to lead exposure.
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New report details what went wrong the night of the Notre-Dame fire

Apparently, Notre-Dame Cathedral was more likely to collapse than we were led to believe on April 15, when a historic fire sent not only Paris but the world into a state of mourning over the potential loss of a beloved architectural landmark.  The New York Times has discovered, after reviewing hundreds of documents and completing a series of interviews with church officials and leaders from the fire security company responsible for Notre-Dame, that there was a major miscommunication about where exactly the flames had started. According to the report, when the fire alarm went off at 6:18 p.m., the guard sent to check on the warning went to the wrong building—the sacristy, not the attic—which seriously delayed the response effort.  It took 30 minutes before anyone realized what was happening. By the time the guard climbed up to “the forest,” the famous attic constructed of aged timber beams holding up the roof, the fire was unstoppable. Failure to identify the location of the blaze in time was only the first misstep in a series of errors that night.  The NYT found another critical reason why the damage was so bad; the fire warning system was “so arcane that when it was called upon to do the one thing that mattered — warn “fire!” and say where — it produced instead a nearly indecipherable message.” Reporters uncovered archival documents in a Paris library detailing the lengths at which the cathedral staff and fire protection experts had taken over six years to put the alarm in place, but it was simply too old and too slow. Not only that, but Notre-Dame’s attic didn’t contain any sprinklers or firewalls.  Perhaps one of the most unfortunate causes of the blaze was the newness of the employee who communicated the location of the fire to the guard. The NYT reported that it was only his third day on the job, and he had just started a double shift manning the presbytery room, which contained a complicated control panel that alerted him to smoke anywhere in the complex. There’s debate over whether he understood the alert and whether he communicated it correctly. Recent staff cuts at Notre-Dame had left him solo, according to The Telegraph. The cathedral’s spire had fallen an hour into the fight against the blaze, and the fire was so all-consuming that all firefighters on site were ordered to return to the ground where, after realizing the wind was pushing the fire towards the northern bell tower, they switched their efforts to save that structure instead. By 9:45 p.m., things were under control.  This NYT report sheds light on the various elements that caused the fire at Notre-Dame to get so far out of control. By chronicling the night’s events, hour by hour, we can now see how fragile the cathedral truly was, and how close we were to losing it forever—and by some estimates, still are. An official investigation by the French government is still ongoing to determine the cause of the fire, though it’s believed that no malice was intended. As of yesterday, parliament has approved a bill to reconstruct Notre-Dame by 2024, meaning the $954 million collected in donations following the fire will go directly to the restoration. According to the Senate, the building will be rebuilt to historical accuracy, though it will be a while before that can begin. Work on reinforcing the structure is currently proceeding very slowly and the project’s chief architect says it could still collapse if the flying buttresses aren’t shored up properly, CNN reports
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French Senate declares Notre Dame must be rebuilt as it was before, quashing competition

The French Senate has seemingly dealt a blow to French president Emmanuel Macron, approving a bill that requires the damaged Notre Dame Cathedral be rebuilt as it was before and from the same materials, wherever possible. On Monday night, according to French newspapers Le Monde and The Local, the Senate approved a Notre Dame reconstruction bill first passed by the lower house of the French parliament, the National Assembly, but precluded altering the cathedral. Senators added a clause stating the cathedral must be repaired to its “last known visual state” and use original materials, with exemptions allowed in extenuating circumstances for newer materials. The Senate agreed with the National Assembly that an oversight body headed by the Ministry of Culture would need to be created, but took out text from the lower house’s bill that would have, as per Macron’s request, allowed the reconstruction to sidestep environmental and preservation laws. Both houses of French parliament will now need to hash out the final text of the bill before it can move forward, but whatever they ultimately agree to will form the groundwork for the reconstruction process. If the Senate’s additions hold, it would be an explicit rebuke to Macron and Prime Minister Édouard Philippe. Two days after a fire ravaged Notre Dame on April 15, Macron pledged that the cathedral would be rebuilt by 2024, in time for the Summer Olympics in Paris, and that timetable may still hold. A competition to replace Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc’s downed timber spire from the mid-19th Century was also announced, and architects all over the world took the opportunity to imagine a Notre Dame topped in glass, parking lots, greenhouses, and more. Opposition to rebuilding the Parisian cathedral using modern materials and bypassing the existent preservation standards gathered steam, and over a thousand architects, historians, curators, and other interested parties have signed a petition calling on Macron not to rush the reconstruction.
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The Eiffel Tower’s landscape will be redesigned before the 2024 Olympics

The city of Paris has selected the London-based landscape architecture studio Gustafson Porter + Bowman (GP+B) to redevelop the square-mile “grand site” surrounding the Eiffel Tower. GP+B’s plan, OnE, will reorganize the site into a more linear experience, complete with new parks, reflecting pools, kiosks, and an amphitheater—turning the strip into Paris’s largest park. The announcement stems from a competition launched in 2018 to renovate the areas immediately adjacent to the tower to improve safety, reduce wait times to get to the tower, and overall make the plaza a more enjoyable (and easier to navigate) place. Improving the pedestrian flow around one of the city’s most tourist-friendly landmarks is especially important with the 2024 Summer Olympics rapidly approaching. Rounding out the GP+B team are preservation experts Atelier Monchecourt & Co and French urban design firm Sathy. Together, their winning multi-stage master plan creates a central axis that runs west-to-east beneath the tower, using it as a central point to connect “Place du Trocadéro, the Palais de Chaillot, the Pont d’Iéna, the Champ de Mars, and the Ecole Militaire,” according to GP+B. That includes hopping over the River Seine and turning the existing Pont d’Iéna bridge into a greenway, and restoring the esplanades on either side. Throughout the landscape, the team has used the linear design to strategically frame views of the Eiffel Tower and surrounding city. Beyond that, the corridors and “glades” carved out from the park will be used to host temporary events, including concerts and public art shows. This combination of form and function was described by GP+B in a press release as a melding of “classical French gardens,” typically used to denote wealth and power, and “French picturesque gardens,” where artistic experimentation flourished. Trees will also be planted to help bolster the area’s biodiversity. The $39 million master plan is being enacted in phases, with the first to be finished by 2023, and the second, more ambitious section slated for completion in 2030.
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SABO project turned to plywood for this Paris duplex

Sometimes simpler is better. When Alexandre Delaunay, founder of the Paris and Brooklyn–based SABO project, was approached to design a home for young Parisian family in the 15th arrondissement, he decided to use clean, custom plywood millwork and let the objects in the space speak for themselves. The family had purchased the 1,658-square-foot duplex in a building typical of 1950s-era Parisian housing stock, and both sections needed renovations. SABO stripped the ceilings of both floors back to the concrete slab, centered the flow of both floors around the freestanding spiral staircase, and flipped the home’s programming on its head. Check out the rest of the project on our new interiors site, aninteriormag.com.