Paris mayoral candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet is attempting to forge a new underground scene in the French capital. In conjunction with her 2014 campaign the politician has commissioned a series of mock-ups that re-imagine abandoned subway stations as cultural and recreational gathering spaces. The designs were executed by Manal Rachdi of OXO architects + Nicolas Laisné from Laisné architecte urbaniste. The renderings transform the Arsenal metro station, one of 16 dating between 1930 and 1970 to have either fallen out of use or never open following construction. While some of the their tracks still bear witness to train traffic and are used as dumping grounds for the Paris Metro, Kosciusko-Morizet is hoping to attract more than just subway cars and unused equipment to the stations. The renderings show the transit catacombs filled with the likes of a theater, swimming pool, restaurant, nightclub, and sculpture gallery. Sleek visuals aside, questions about sanitation, safety, and even acoustics immediately come to mind when one considers the logistics of implementation. Ultimately the mayor hopes to create some kind of platform that would allow the public to submit ideas for the subterranean spaces. The plan would not mark the first re-purposing of an out of use station, nor is it the only stab in recent weeks at giving new life to rusting public transportation infrastructure found within the city. Though the proposal has garnered a fair bit of buzz, any hopes of realization are contingent on Kosciusko-Morizet, a former minister of transport for the French government herself, actually ascending to the mayor's office. For now the center-right candidate remains a firm second favorite behind her socialist adversary Anne Hidalgo.
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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.
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.
Renzo Piano has unveiled renderings for the new Palais de Justice, positioned on the northern edge of central Paris in the urban expansion area of Clichy-Batignolles, which will provide space for and unite numerous judicial services presently scattered throughout the city. The law courts complex appears as a slender, translucent, 525-foot-tall tower comprised of four stacked rectangular masses diminishing in size as they ascend. The structure includes extensive fenestration to blend the division of the interior and exterior, in addition to two exterior glass elevators offering expansive views of the city. Three atria at the 64,600 square foot ground level piazza direct views into the towers overhead that encompass 30 floors grouped into three levels, each containing 10 floors. The structure consists of 90 courtrooms, offices, and meeting rooms for the magistrates, public prosecutor, and presiding judges. The floor plans within the three sections decrease in scale, forming a tiered system with space for terraces, which incorporate roof gardens landscaped with trees. The terraces accommodate solar panels and a rainwater collection system, and the building is on track to set a new standard for energy efficiency in tall buildings. Designed for efficiency and simplicity, the thin proportions of the courthouse are systematically organized so as to guarantee plentiful daylight throughout, and even extending to the tower’s center. The site is situated at a major crossroads between the administrative areas of the city and its suburbs, and is well linked by public transportation, including the northern expanse of the exceedingly successful, recently completed tramway system. The Palais de Justice is expected to open by 2017.
Whoever said that one needs to leave the city to experience nature hasn’t seen French architect Stephane Malka’s striking facade proposal for the Parisian restaurant EP7, an unusual site that is sure to stand out in the urban setting of the city. Amidst a city of man-made concrete and glass structures could rise a building essentially comprised of an organically growing “forest. Malka, who has experience in urban landscaping, created a green facade that wraps around a glass enclosure and is composed of raw wooden blocks arranged in a patchy, pixelating pattern. The uneven surface creates spaces for plant life to grow, spilling flourishing green plants and foliage down the building. The textured wooden facade, which seems to actively move inward to completely engulf the glass skin, stops to reveal an expansive view of the restaurant’s interior. Malka’s work presents passersby and restaurant customer with with the interesting paradox of nature abundantly flourishing in an urban environment. [Via Design Taxi.]
The Bjarke Ingels Group, along with Tess, Transsolar, Base, Transitec, and Michel Forgue, have revealed their winning design for EuropaCity, a 200-acre urban cultural and commercial destination located between Paris and Roissy. Combining the forms of a dense European city with an open landscape, EuropaCity is set to be a retail, cultural, and leisure city of unprecedented scale. Modeled on the European urban experience and equipped with cutting edge green technologies, the development will serve as a retail and cultural hub for the region as well as a laboratory and showcase for sustainable design. The project will contain concert halls, spas, and retail oriented around an internal avenue and based on traditional European urban models, with integrated infrastructures for bicycles and electric-powered public transit. The entire project will be caped in a massive landscaped green roof, containing, of course, ski slopes, hiking trails, urban farming, rolling hills, sloping valleys, and unmatched views of the Paris skyline. The mega-development will be linked directly to the Paris Metro and the Charles de Gaul Airport. “EuropaCity will be an experimental hybrid between urbanism and landscape design,” said Bjark Ingels in a statement. “Center and periphery overlapped in simultaneous coexistence of a recreational open landscape of rolling hills superimposed on an urban neighborhood of walkable streets, plazas, and parks.” While EuropaCity will be fully powered through solar, biofuels, and geothermal, BIG hopes to reach for another level of sustainability with the project by crafting a high quality of public life within the area and providing solutions by which we can improve the quality of the urban environment.
Since Wednesday, four black ewes have a new home, and new jobs as groundskeepers on a small patch of municipal land in Paris. Fenced in on a half-acre lawn in front of the city’s archives building in the 19th Arrondissement, the New York Times reported that the sheep are part of a new “eco-grazing” program which aims to cut out loud, gas-guzzling lawnmowers and toxic herbicides in favor of a more agrarian solution. If all goes well at the archives, city officials have plans to bring more mouton to pastures across Paris. Their hilly home on the eastern edge of the city is a near perfect paddock for the animals, Marcel Collet, the farmer overseeing the sheep, assured the Times. The special two-foot-tall sheep, known as Ouessant, were brought from the Breton coast and selected for the hardiness and diminutive size. Contained by a three foot electric fence and monitored by a lone guard, the sheep face few threats aside from domestic dogs and the hazard of tipping over (if a sheep falls, someone needs to be there to flip it back over). “Otherwise, it risks smothering itself,” archives director Angés Masson quipped to the Times. While she is happy with her new employees, they weren’t exactly what she was hoping for, telling the Times that, “Myself, I wanted a donkey.” Others also have their doubts about the sheep, as some worry that they may endanger the local biodiversity. Four distinct types of orchids have been found on the sheep’s new pasture, but scientists will stand by to monitor the interaction between the animals and plant life. The sheep are part of a larger greening effort by Mayor Betrand Delanoë, who has brought bike- and car-sharing programs, bike and bus lanes, and pedestrian pathways to the city since being elected in 2001. At a mere $335 for the four, the sheep provide both a sustainable and affordable solution to Paris landscaping needs.
Starting Wednesday, January 30, LA's MAK Center and arts promoter ForYourArt will begin hosting Dialogues: Art/Architecture, Paris/Los Angeles, a series of events bringing together architects and artists from those two cities. Events include four discussions at the Schindler House in West Hollywood, an exhibition of drawings and models at ForYourArt in Miracle Mile, and the launch of a publication compiling participants' work and discussion. In addition to AN West Coast editor Sam Lubell, participants include (take a deep breath): Doug Aitken, Berdaguer/Pejus, Barbara Bestor, Claude Collins-Stracensky, Dahlqvist/Hommert, Escher/Gunewardena, Didier Faustino, Yona Friedman, Cyprien Gaillard, Fritz Haeg, Piero Golia, Ibai Hernandorena, Marie Jager, Alice Konitz, Vincent Lamouroux, Won Ju Lim, Tom Marble, Jorge Pardo, Claude Parent, Francois Perrin, Ivette Soler, Linda Taalman, Oscar Tuazon, Xavier Veilhan, Eric Wesley, Pae White and Peter Zellner. The impressive program is part of part of “Ceci n’est pas…Art between France and Los Angeles," a five month art and cultural exchange put together by the French Embassy of the United States, the French Institute, and the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. See the full schedule and a slideshow of participants' work below: WEDNESDAY JANUARY 30, 2013, 6-8 PM, SCHINDLER HOUSE Program launch reception and panel discussion with Fritz Haeg, Marie Jager, Alice Konitz, Ivette Soler, and Oscar Tuazon, moderated by Jan Tumlir. WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 27, 2013, 6-8 PM, SCHINDLER HOUSE Panel discussion with Joakim Dahlqvist, Didier Faustino, Jens Hommert, Piero Golia, Jorge Pardo, Linda Taalman, and Peter Zellner, moderated by Sam Lubell. WEDNESDAY MARCH 27, 2013, 6-8 PM, SCHINDLER HOUSE Panel discussion with Frank Escher, Won Ju Lim, Tom Marble, Xavier Veilhan, and Pae White, moderated by Danielle Rago. TUESDAY APRIL 2, 2013, 6-8 PM, FORYOURART Opening reception of drawings and models by the participants. TUESDAY APRIL 16, 2013, 6-8 PM, FORYOURART Closing reception and presentation of the publication and panel discussion with Barbara Bestor, Claude Collins-Stracensky, Cyprien Gaillard, Vincent Lamouroux, and Marie Pejus moderated by Andrew Berardini.
OMA has won the design competition for the new École Centrale Engineering school in Saclay, France, a suburb of Paris. The final design calls for an enormous block composed of smaller buildings creating an open plan grid. According to OMA, the concept behind the design is a "lab city" where multiple events can take place while all being simultaneously observed. A diagonal pathway cuts through the grid connecting the existing engineering school to a future metro station connecting to Paris. The entire school complex will be sheltered by a glass roof and encourage collaborative practices while still maintaining the structure and stability necessary for an engineering school. In the very center, rising above the surrounding campus, a smaller forum block will be built above the glass roof to act as an activity hub housing a gym, classrooms, and an administration center.
Paris-based artist Jonas LeClasse’s Imaginary Doors (And the People Who Pass By Them) is as simple as it is beautiful. Amidst the continuous grit and grime of dirty, graffiti-filled urban walls in St. Dennis—a working-class Parisian suburb—LeClasse draws doors using chalk, provoking viewers to slow down and reflect. He then invites viewers to pause for a portrait with the “door.” Perhaps it is a gateway of sorts, a simple delineation of inside and outside, or the fact that the portrait always captures the subject within a double-frame (outside of the the door yet inside of the picture). In any case, LeClasse achieves poetry using subtle architectural gestures. All photos by Jonas LeClasse. [Via Wooster Collective.]
The "reconquest" of the Seine's riverside expressways will be ushered in by Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, following a long battle with Nicolas Sarkozy's recently ousted right-wing government. Continuous two-lane motorways have severed Paris from the banks of the Seine, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, since Georges Pompidou opened them in 1967 under the slogan “Paris must adapt to the car.” Delanoë has made it his mission to reverse Paris' auto-centric planning mentality, increasing the number of bicycle and bus lanes in the city while implementing bike- and electric car-share schemes. The pedestrianization of the Seine also follows Delanoë’s Paris-Plages program, started in 2002, that transforms small stretches of riverbank into sand-covered beaches complete with palm trees and deckchairs for one month each summer. Starting next month, a stretch of road on the Right Bank starting at the Hôtel de Ville and running eastward a little more than half a mile will be narrowed and additional speed-controlling traffic lights and pedestrian crossings will be installed. Pedestrian corridors and bicycle lanes will be added to the road, along with bars and cafes (some of them on floating barges and islands). The next stage, to be unveiled next spring, will replace the road completely for a one-and-a-half-mile stretch of the Left Bank between the Musée d’Orsay and the Pont de l’Alma, creating an 11-acre park with volleyball courts, sundecks, and floating gardens. This corridor will be connected to the Right Bank by new pedestrian crossings at Debilly (adjacent the Eiffel Tower) and Jardins des Tuileries (adjacent the Louvre). It is expected these modifications will add only six minutes to the average commute while restoring access to the riverfront to Parisians and tourists alike.
The Parisian gallery Patrick Seguin features 20th century furniture and architecture and is currently showing Jean Prouvé's 1956 Maison Des Jours Meilleurs from May 25 to September 29. But if you can't make it to 5 Rue des Taillandiers this summer, you can still watch the live set-up of the house in the gallery at Seguin's website. Construction takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Paris time.