Posts tagged with "Paris":

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The Pompidou Center in Paris turns 40

"Life begins at forty!" say most with a glint in their eye and a glass of bubbly in raised hand. That phrase though, belongs to those who know they will not live much past twice that age—if they're lucky. Inaugurated to the public in Paris on January 31, 1977, and celebrating its 40th birthday today is The Pompidou Center. Its architects, however, imagine a far greater lifespan for their building: Renzo Piano hopes it will last for two millennia. "We believe that the life of this building will be 2,000 years so we don’t care so much about 40 years," said Piano speaking to Rowan Moore in The Observer. "The Colosseum is still there so I don’t see why it won’t be still there." Both Italian-born architects, Piano and Richard Rogers (the latter settling in England during WWII) led the design team behind the now iconic building. The pair worked alongside architects Gianfranco Franchini and John Young, also from Italy and Britain respectively, as well as Arup engineers. Though much-loved and well-visited today, the Pompidou Center suffered a rocky start when completed forty years ago. "Not many outside the charmed circle of modern architecture have even heard of Archigram and of its apocalyptic struggles in an unresponsive society," said Reyner Banham in the year of the Pompidou's opening. "...You don’t go to Paris to look at post-Corbusian modern architecture. Why then was the [Pomoidou Center] built to this sort of design?" he questioned. Back then, as it still does so today, the Pompidou rises up above the enclaves of its Haussmannian surroundings of Paris' 4th arrondissement. Tall buildings in the French capital are seldom met with open arms and the 149-foot-tall structural behemoth was no exception. Despite its sheer mass detracting from this notion (it's 544 feet long and 197 feet wide), even President Pompidou who commissioned the building was struck. Rogers recalled his reaction: "all he said was “Ça va faire crier” [This is going to make a noise]." The flower-power foursome, however, weren't deterred. Building on the radical architecture conceptualized by Archigram (Plug-in City) and Cedric Price (Fun Palace), and even built by Eb Zeidler (Ontario Place), Rogers and Piano sought to propose an essentially living building. Within their monumental megastructure, floors would move up and down, escalators would propel visitors up the side of the facade and screens would display messages to the masses. The Pompidou Center was to be a factory of culture. (Interestingly Piano used this metaphor to describe his science center for Columbia University completed last year.) Sadly, only the escalators prevailed, but the structure remained an icon of "inside-out" and "high-tech" architecture. It's active facade, visibly alive with visitors milling around, also showcases an array of structural detailings. With this external framework set for an amalgamation of complexities, Piano and Rogers originally planned for the structure to be able to have parts easily added to and taken away. The factory would change with technology. This too, however, was never realized. Their approach also perhaps reflects part of the Piano's childhood past. Growing up, his four other brothers were all builders. In an interview with The New Yorker, Piano recalled how his father questioned his teenage desire to be an architect and not a builder. "Keeping the action together with the conception is maybe a way to feel less guilty," he contemplated in 1994. The ideas found in the Pompidou can still be seen in Piano's work today. Extensive fenestration, openness, and visible structure all prevalent themes throughout his projects. Perhaps this because he sees the Pompidou Center more than most architects. The office of his namesake's firm (Renzo Piano Building Workshop) and even his apartment are located in the Marais District, a few blocks from the former Center Beaubourg site. While massive in scale though, the Pompidou Center doesn't fill all the space it was allocated. A sloping plaza which backs onto a series of unmissable air vents (which, in turn, outline the perimeter footprint of the center) allows the public to watch the goings on inside. In fact, 118,400 square feet of glass was used to compose the plaza-facing facade. On the roof, visitors can still enjoy vistas over Paris in all directions, taking in rare views over rooftops and onto the Eiffel Tower. Such egalitarian ideas had roots in Rogers' architectural education. Under the leftist stewardship of Paul Rudolph and Buckminster Fuller, Rogers studied at Yale where he befriended fellow compatriot Norman Foster. Foster later went on to design high-tech architecture evocative of the Pompidou Center himself (see the Renault Distribution Center, 1982), reaching similar architectural heights in the process. The left-leaning ideas Rogers ingested, meanwhile, manifested in his and Piano's only collaboratively designed work. This wasn't a chance occurrence either. The pair felt they could win the favor of Jean Prouvé, a member of the awarding jury who preferred social housing to extravagant culture palaces. “We saw that it might also be about ethics, people, society," said Piano. "We were young but we were not stupid. We saw some sign of a possible miracle.” (Side note: Philip Johnson was also a jury member) Rogers' and Piano's meeting, however, was arguably more fortuitous. In 1969, when at the Architectural Association in London presenting his exhibit on light-weight structures, Piano bumped into a doctor for whom Rogers had designed a dwelling. The doctor, while worried one of his sons had given Rogers chicken pox, took Piano to meet Rogers. Rogers would later describe Piano and himself as "probably as close together in outlook as any two architects around." They both went on to win the Pritzker Prize. 1969 was a momentous year for many reasons. Warren Chalk of Archigram wrote an article titled: “Owing to lack of interest, tomorrow has been cancelled.” A riff on Irene Kampen's title, Chalk inferred the diminishing possibilities of a technological, utopian architecture. In France, Georges Pompidou was announced as President. As Banham suggested, Pompidou probably hadn't read Chalk's brooding, and so threw caution to the wind. With the dust still settling from the 1968 May riots which had brought social upheaval, a snap election and a veer to the left, Pompidou furthered former President's Charles de Gaulle's idea for a free library on the Plateau Beaubourg in Paris. Pompidou also demanded that the building also became a center for the contemporary arts as the French capital feared its waning prowess in the art world. A competition was launched and 681 entrants from 49 countries saw their chance. Piano, Rogers, Young and Franchini—all in their early thirties—emerged as the unlikely victors. The group's submission, like Piano and Rogers' meeting, also rode its luck as it erred on the verge of not happening at all. Rogers opposed the idea of submitting, being more interested in a competition for a smaller museum in Glasgow. In what Piano described as a "beautiful little memo," Rogers outlined his case. "Being an old lefty, I didn't believe in a centralized, government-run art center, and certainly not one built in the heart of Paris," he said in 1994. Thankfully Piano, structural engineer Ted Happold, and Rogers' former wife Su were able to twist his arm. While its initial ill-favor is well documented, one wonders if the reaction would have been different had the Pompidou Center been completed earlier. With the spirit of '68 still fresh in everyone's minds, its values would have been both more apparent and relevant. Georges Pompidou did not live to see the building's completion and was not there to vouch for it. A decade after the center was built, however, another president, Francois Mitterrand, also shared Piano and Rogers' skyward vision. In 1987, Mitterand inaugurated a clock that counted down to the end of the century. "A nation must orient its gaze toward the future," he said. While that milestone has passed, no one has yet put a clock to countdown to the Pompidou Center's 2,000th birthday. A two-year renovation in 2000 saw enlargements made to the center's performance spaces, museum, and restaurant. Though this also resulted in visitors having to pay to use the exterior escalators, the center hasn't lost its appeal. At forty, the culture factory is still functioning. Still the biggest museum for modern art in Europe, boasting more than 50,000 works from 5,000 artists, the Pompidou Center continues to attract tourists in their droves—averaging around 3.8 million a year—from France and across the world.
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Paris Mayor unveils plan for new citywide electric tramway and pedestrianized streets

Over the past few months, Paris Mayor Anne Hildago has rolled out her plans to reduce the number of private cars in the French capital by half. The most recent announcement is a new electric tramway that will open September 2018 and will run alongside the upper highways along the Seine in both directions. Dubbed the Olympic Tramway in alignment with Paris’s bid for the 2024 Olympics, it is the latest in a series of attempts to improve the city's air quality. In the past year, periodic road closures and car bans caused controversy after the city’s pollution reached potentially harmful levels. SGP-metro-plan--645x457 The electric tramway will be accompanied by additional bike lanes and infrastructure geared toward pedestrians. According to The Guardian, there are major pedestrianization plans under way: Traffic will be restricted on the upper highway on the Seine's right bank and the Rue de Rivoli, while a one kilometer river-adjacent stretch of the Place de la Concorde and Pont Royal will be fully closed to vehicles. And, as The Architect's Newspaper reported in November, several firms such as Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Kengo Kuma Associates have been tapped to work on this increased network of public spaces in the French capital. BIG designed the new Pont de Bondy station northwest of Paris—one of 68 new stations that will form the Grand Paris Express—and Kengo Kuma Associates created the Gare Saint-Denis Pleyel station north of the city. Combined, Hildago hopes these efforts can create a significant change for future generations.
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Paris temporarily makes all public transport free and limits car travel to curb pollution

Parisian commuters have been enjoying free access to public transport in the past two days as the city attempts to reduce pollution amidst an air quality crisis. Drivers with odd numbered license plates were banned from traveling in the city yesterday, as were those with even numbered plates the day before with exceptions being for hybrid and electric vehicles, and those carrying three or more people. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted a picture of the city's pollution saying: "Proof of the need to reduce the car's place in the city center." Drivers caught defying the authorities could face a $37 fine or even have their vehicles impounded. The move came after it emerged that Paris was enduring the worst winter pollution in a decade. Lack of wind has allowed pollution remain in the city prompting Hidalgo to act. Motorists, however, do not appear to be particularly bothered by the ban on driving, with many accepting the fines. According to the Independent, 1,700 motorists were fined on Tuesday. The Local reports that in making the services free of charge, Paris is losing $4.3 million a day—$12.9 so far including today which has been the third day of free travel. The temporary scheme will stay in place until Friday. Debates surrounding the effectiveness of the implementation have also surfaced. On Tuesday, the first day of the scheme, pollution levels actually increased. Phys.org, meanwhile, notes that while pollution levels are bad by Paris's standards (the offending particulates "PM10" being above 80 micrograms per cubic meter of air), cities such as New Delhi and Beijing easily surpass these PM10 levels. In New Delhi today, PM10 levels were reportedly at 600/m^3. Public transport in Paris is also undergoing a massive development. The infrastructure project has so far seen Bjarke Ingels, Kengo Kuma, and Dominique Perrault all jump on board for the Paris subway overhaul.
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Bjarke Ingels, Kengo Kuma, and Dominique Perrault on board for Paris subway overhaul

Danish studio Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has been award the commission to design a subway station in Paris. Working with local firm Silvio d’Ascia Architecture, BIG has designed the Pont de Bondy station situated northwest of Paris. The station will one of 68 new stations which will form the Grand Paris Express—a new infrastructure project in the French capital which is due to add 124 miles of rail to the existing subway network. Clad in terra-cotta, the looped "P"-shape design bears an orthogonal frame in section and spans the Ourcq canal, providing a sheltered walkway for pedestrians. Inside the P's counter will be the station area itself, meanwhile the other main entranceway extends along the canal's banks. This will elegantly connect with the sidewalk while passing under the existing tram and road bridge. Keeping with the typographic theme, "PONT DE BONDY" appears to be emblazoned on the structure in BIG's distinctive typeface. The Pont de Body station will be a major part of the Grand Paris Express, being one of nine special "emblematic stations" throughout the new subway network. Conceived by the Société du Grand Paris (a public agency for industrial and commercial transport development), the scheme aims to reduce travel times, link business districts with each other and the center of Paris, as well as connect airports Charles de Gaulle, Orly, and Le Bourget. BIG and Silvio d’Ascia Architecture's station will be part of Line 15, a ring route surrounding Paris, and be the main access point for the business hub that joins the Bondy, Bobigny, and Noisy-le-Sec districts. Other notable architects such as Kengo Kuma and Dominique Perrault are also part of the scheme, with both, like BIG, having won the commission to design a business district node. Kengo Kuma Associates has designed the Gare Saint-Denis Pleyel station located north of Paris and Dominique Perrault Architecture has designed the Gare Villejuif Institut Gustave-Roussy situated south of the capital. Both stations will be on the Line 15 ring route and connect to Pont de Bondy.
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Studio Gang and OMA among architects competing to redesign Tour Montparnasse in Paris

A list of seven firms (three French and four international) have been selected by the Ensemble Immobilier Tour Maine-Montparnasse (EITMM) as part of the second round of a competition to redesign the much-maligned Montparnasse Tower in Paris. Built in 1973, the 690-foot (59 story) high-rise has been the regular subject of scorn from Parisians and architects alike. Now Dutch studio OMA; British practice, PLP; French architect Dominique Perrault, and Chicago firm Studio Gang among others are in the running to take on the tower's redesign. Known as the Tour Montparnasse, the building changed city planning policy after its completion 33 years ago. Buildings in the French capital were banned from rising above seven stories two years after it was constructed, a policy that has allowed the skyscraper to remain as Paris's tallest building. The full list of firms vying to re-imagine the tower can be found below: The list of seven came from a list of more than 700 firms that entered the first phase of EITMM's competition. In a press release, one stakeholder said the seven agencies were selected for their "reliability, expertise, audacity and their understanding of the challenges we face." Now the competition has briefed the chosen seven with submitting a proposal that will supply a "powerful, innovative, dynamic and ambitious new identity to the famous Parisian landmark, whilst integrating the challenges of usage, comfort and energy performance to the highest levels." These proposals are due in March 2017. The competition's third stage will see this list whittled down to two finalists from which a winner will be announced in July next year. The project is due to cost $326 million with one-third of this being privately financed by Tour Montparnasse's co-owners. Construction is set to start in 2019, being completed by 2023. Jean-Louis Missika, deputy to the Mayor of Paris, in charge of urban planning, architecture and economic development for the Greater Paris project, said: "We are delighted with this varied and audacious selection of architects which promises a great diversity of ideas, approaches, and innovations for the transformation of the Montparnasse Tower, the initial stage in the renovation of the whole area."
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Glossy metallic finishes and LED lights reconnect 1970s-era towers to the city

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“We are offering a new type of work environment, fit for today’s world.” - Dominique Perrault Architect

The Pont de Sevres Towers were originally completed in 1975 by architects Badani and Roux-Dorlut, and have since been renamed Citylights following a complete re-structuring by Dominique Perrault Architect. The original buildings are a series of typologically modern high-rise office towers within a barren urban context. The renovation plays a key role in Paris’s recent urban expansion toward Grand Paris, now connected to the city’s public transport system and through a series of pedestrian routes providing a link to the new Trapeze district—a post-industrial revitalization where former factories are being reborn as new office and residential spaces. To physically anchor the towers to the city, the architects planned a range of spaces that open to the community via large plazas, gardens, reception areas, walkways, and communal spaces. “We are offering a new type of work environment, fit for today’s world,” said the architects in a press release. Due to an existing hexagonal floor plate and efficient elevator core layout from the 1970’s, reusing the structure yielded a plan steeped in contemporary logic, efficiency, and reality. Daylight bounces off of nearby tower facades, minimizing the difference between daylight quality in units with northward orientations vs. those with southward orientations. To maximize this effect, the architects integrated lighting and reflective cladding to produce luminous massing volumes.
  • Facade Manufacturer Goyer and West Alu
  • Architects Dominique Perrault Architect (architect); Artelia (architect of execution); Gaëlle Lauriot-Prévost Design (designer)
  • Facade Installer Goyer and West Alu
  • Facade Consultants EGIS (structure and MEP), EPPAG (facade)
  • Location Paris (Boulogne-Billancourt)
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System double skin facade, with polished aluminum, enameled aluminum, and double serigraphy mirror and grey finishes
  • Products Alucobond : aluminum cladding and framings /  NSG: glass / Serigraphie: Arino Duglass / blinds: CYB stores / LED lights : Cardelum
Specifically, 3,400 new facade elements were installed on 366,000 square feet of facade area. Furthermore, the complex contains 81,000 sq. ft. of aluminum cladding and 180,000 square feet of glass. Two-thirds of the building envelope is covered with a flat facade framed in a polished aluminum and spandrel panels of colorless enameled aluminum. The other third of the building envelope is wrapped with a folded facade that creates formal bracelets around the towers. The bracelets are set at varying elevations as a compositional strategy in response to the existing massing of the complex. The bracelets integrate ventilation and LED lighting to reinforce a rhythm on the elevation. Along with an impressive mixed-use 16,100-square-foot base designed by Gaelle Lauriot Prevost, the project also added to the cluster of three towers with a fourth “petal” extension, recycling the same geometry for the original 1975 structures. With a similar exterior shell, the structural system of the tower was optimized to have less core space that affords a larger amount of open space. The renovation of the buildings involved increasing all window openings to be nearly two feet taller. All building equipment is organized into a ceiling plenum which geometrically responsive to the rhythm of the facade glazing. Where glazing occurs on the building envelope, a double-glazed system is integrated with 3” enameled aluminum awning strips, motorized based on weather data from a nearby weather station. Citylights has been awarded two environmental certifications: HQE (“Haute Qualite Environmental), and a “Very Good” level BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodolody) certification.  These standards were achieved after a design process that included three dimensional digital modeling to optimize equipment sizing and locations, the detailing of a “breathable” double skin facade, an automated sun protection system, increased natural light through expanded openings, and a chilled beam induction system to optimize thermal comfort. An energy analysis of the project confirms the buildings consume 50 percent less than a similar sized building, and six times less than a conventional commercial building. The chill beams are able to reduce the heating and cooling load by 30 percent. Additionally, 64 percent of the energy demand in the building is covered by renewable energy which covers a significant portion of the heating and cooling load.
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Housing goes vertical in Paris

"Housing constitutes 80% of the city, so this 80% has to be exceptional." - Hamonic+Masson

Hamonic+Masson & Associates has designed the first residential high rise building constructed in Paris since the 1970s. The building, appropriately called “Home,” is a collective assemblage of a staggering 90 apartment typologies, resulting in 200 residential units offering a sense of identity, ownership, and differentiation within a collective building. The alternating stacked massing of the building is clad with prefabricated corrugated sheet panels finished in a two-tiered color scheme of brushed aluminum. The architects said these finishes are employed as a compositional strategy to highlight the transition in the building from repetitive low rise to unique vertical massing elements: “The finishes applied to the cladding highlight the natural beauty of aluminum while the glossy topcoat reflects the sunlight beautifully.” A silver tone continues the contextual lower base units along Avenue de France, while a gold tone is deployed as the massing of the building progresses vertically.
  • Facade Manufacturer Alubel & Euramax
  • Architects Hamonic+Masson & Associés (Lead Architect), Comte Vollenweider Architectes (Associate Architect)
  • Facade Installer SMAC (facade assembly), Bouygues Bâtiment Habitat residential (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Sibat (Structural/MEP Engineering/Quantity Surveying); Ateliers Yves Lion (Urban planner); Sémapa (Urban Projects Developer)
  • Location Paris
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System Concrete frame with aluminum rainscreen
  • Products Prefabricated corrugated aluminium sheet panels by Alubel; Euramax brushed anodized finish; SOPREMA ‘Exodalle’ waterproof panels
Gaëlle Hamonic and Jean-Christophe Masson, cofounders of the eponymous firm, said that while the “postcard image” of Paris is one of uniformly low Haussmannian-designed buildings and historical monuments, there is a need to renew and reinvent the image of the city: “Paris is a city that has constantly reinvented itself and tried to modernize itself.” They say their growing body of work in vertical housing units embraces the traditional urbanism of Paris while offering its occupants a “new vision of their city,” continuing a process of perpetual reinvention. Other materials used on the tower’s balconies include glass with colored interlay, stainless-steel meshing, and coated aluminium for the balustrades, while the terraced roof decks use SOPREMA Exodalle waterproof panels made from exotic Brazilian Massaranduba wood. The aluminum screens were prefabricated off site by local companies Euramax and Alubel, then fitted onto the building by SMAC. Tucked away in the base of the structure are over 300 spring isolators to dampen vibrations from the three level below grade parking garage. A detail unseen, but crucial to the occupant comfort of the units above. Hamonic+Masson told AN that integration of private terraces into the facade setbacks was a key compositional strategy: “It is crucial to create intermediate spaces where residents feel both ‘at home’ and ‘in the open’, having access to the outdoors from the comfort of their own apartment.” The architects say this project is a pedagogical tool  - a demonstration that height is an effective urban planning solution for Paris. “Paris is reinventing itself, and this project is the spearhead of the revolution!”
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Stealthy Parisian development blends city life with garden courtyards

VIB Architecture has constructed a mixed-use program of student housing and a nursery along a narrow site in a busy neighborhood in Paris.

In a Parisian neighborhood known for its pedestrian-scale passages and small alleys, VIB Architecture has constructed a mixed-use project skillfully incorporating student housing and a nursery program into a complex of several new construction and renovated properties. The project is located in Belleville, a historically working class neighborhood with strong arts community and a heterogeneous mix of architectural scales arranged along a hilly topography. This latest addition to the neighborhood adds to the mix by combining contextual strategies with a bold contemporary material palette and massing scheme. The project is generally organized around two 8-story buildings that are bisected by an exterior passageway that leads to a courtyard space. Apartments are located along the active street front, protecting a rear sunny courtyard, lined with smaller scale buildings, for use by the nursery. An existing building links the two programs.
  • Facade Manufacturer Tolartois (panel fabrication); Francano (anodized finish)
  • Architects VIB Architecture (Franck Vialet and Bettina Ballus)
  • Facade Installer BECS (engineering consultants) / Lainé Delau (facade installation)
  • Facade Consultants Igrec Ingénierie (engineering)
  • Location Paris 20e
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System rainscreen (perforated, stamped, arched, boards over a galvanized steel framing)
  • Products 2mm aluminum panels (Tolartois); bronze anodizing (Francano); marble granulate coated facades (Zolgranit); Lacquered aluminum frames with integrated acoustic ventilation slits (Kawneer), Laminated and coated flat glass & metal mesh (Jakob)
The most recognizable building is wrapped in a custom-designed perforated aluminum skin, with a massing composed of slightly staggered floor plates with rounded corners. The skin of the building becomes panelized into operable shutters at window locations, allowing for users to control desired levels of shading, privacy and ventilation. The horizontal patterning of the perforations tracks downward into the courtyard, aesthetically integrating the housing and nursery programs, says Franck Vialet, Partner of VIB Architecture. “The perforations give depth and the horizontal stripes vibrate and link the street to the inner gardens.” The building interestingly was originally designed with a wooden rainscreen system, but was dropped early in the design process due to strict fire regulations. Vialet says the resulting aluminum facade became a natural choice due to its material qualities and design flexibility with fabrication processes. “We looked for a skin that could be unique and could be textured or machined into both large scale and smaller pieces. Anodized aluminum was the ideal solution because of its great ability to reflect light and to be perforated easily.” Positioned next to an historic garden, the bronze anodized building acts as a landmark, providing a sense of depth to the urban fabric of Belleville. Immediately adjacent to this building sits a second which is designed to be compatible with existing context, clad in a white plastic coating, the massing of the building is more ubiquitous than the first, while strategically stepping down at the rear facade to gently meet the courtyard. By altering the tectonics of the two buildings, the overall impact of the scale of the project is reduced while reinforcing a central circulation “spine” through the length of the plot, linking two successive courtyards. Vialet says the most successful part of the project is the urbanism it fosters: “its ability to naturally blend into the city and to bring together people from the street, the park, and the courtyards.”
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MVRDV’s fractal facade wraps around a shopping center in Lyon, France

The Part-Dieu shopping center in Lyon, France, will be renovated by Dutch firm MVRDV as part of a wider scheme that will give the whole area a much needed face lift. Using what appears to be fractal aesthetic, parts of the facade appear to dissolve, revealing space within. The mixed-use development will house commercial and leisure facilities and supply a generous offering of public space including a roof garden. Such is the nature of the facade that the building becomes increasingly legible at street level, with the fragmented facade almost falling away, creating viewports and allowing people to see inside. This repetitive facade pattern is employed throughout the whole scheme unifying each individual program. Views from inside are also given significant attention, with the metallic tower of Fourvière and Lyons Basilica Notre Dame being awarded framed views. In the process of redesigning the area, MVRDV added 344,500 square feet of new space while installing a general hierarchy to the site, with lower levels being primarily for retail and upper levels for recreation. By moving the pre-existing car park, MVRDV was allowed to include green spaces and terracing while organising the site so that nearby transport could provide easy-access links to and from the area. By allowing public life to manifest within the vicinity, the scheme can easily coalesce with urban life in the general area. This aspect is amplified by the fact that the street and a railway are allowed to cut through the building as well as over other parts of the scheme via escalators and elevated walkways. (Courtesy MVRDV) "The terraces turn the vast roofs of the shopping centre into open, green space in which the public can meet and relax; a quality that is currently missing in this area," said Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV, in a statement. "By rearranging the programme, we create an urban platform that is somewhere between tranquil park and vibrant market square, recreating an atmosphere inspired by the Lyon river side." "The redevelopment of the Part-Dieu commercial center is an opening act towards the city” continued Maas, "The formerly enclosed and defensive block is peeled open and thus becomes a place for the public to inhabit. It becomes part of the city."
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Modernist master of the oblique, Claude Parent, passes away at 93

Claude Parent passed away over the weekend in Paris, a day after his 93rd birthday on Friday. He was one of the most influential modernist architects to come out of France and founder of the oblique function. Parent's aesthetic style is widely acknowledged for paving the way for architects such as Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and Frank Gehry. His style often bears the hallmark of angled walls and roofing, articulating space in such way that had not been seen before on such a scale. The oblique style was developed with the help of urban planner and cultural philosopher Paul Virilio who drew inspiration from the disorientating properties of World War II bunkers that slumped down among sand dunes, hence obscuring the threshold between floor and walls. Together, Parent and Virilio formed Architecture Principe. Notable works include Sainte Bernadette du Balay at Nevers, France. A close friend of Parent, French architect and academic Odile Decq wrote in 2005: "If someone tells you that Claude Parent is over 80, do not believe it."  "His indignation is one that galvanizes and helps you to think about your dreams become possible. This drug is without any danger: it is a necessary prescription for the today’s students in architecture, fully invested in project reality but all frustrated with their dreams about tomorrow’s living," she went on to say. "Though often on the edge, his own heart never broke down, repaired by surgeries on the side road, some oblique roads, so strong and intense was the energy Claude put in it." Today, Decq added to her comments of eleven years ago. "Even if it has been repaired multiple times, last Saturday, while becoming 93, his heart has dropped off and I have lost a friend who was shaking my head to go further. See you soon, Claude!" Parent was rewarded for his contributions to architecture in 1979 when he claimed the Grand National Prize for Architecture. In 2010, he was awarded the title of Commander of the Legion of Honour, one of the highest decorations France can offer.
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Facades+NYC keynote Odile Decq wins Jane Drew Prize

Architect Odile Decq, director of Paris-based Studio Odile Decq, has won the 2016 Jane Drew Prize for "her outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture." Past recipients of the award, administered by Architects' Journal, include Grafton Architects' Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara (joint awardees, 2015), Kathryn Findlay (2014), Eva Jiřičná (2013), and Zaha Hadid (2012). Decq's recent work includes the Fangshan Tangshan National Geopark  Museum in Nanjing, China (2015), the form of which was inspired by the slope of the site; and the Saint-Ange Residency in Seyssins, France (2015), winner of the Blueprint Award for best non-public project. Decq, whose multidisciplinary office boasts a portfolio ranging from plans for social housing to high-tech lighting fixtures, will deliver the opening keynote address at April's Facades+ NYC conference. Decq's interest in the field of high performance building envelopes dates back over 25 years, she explained. "Before the 1990s, facades were composed by architects as holes in a wall," said Decq. "Thanks to [developments in] glass technology and, specifically, the screwed and suspension systems developed by [Irish structural engineer] Peter Rice—who did the first suspended facade in Paris at the end of the 1980s—facades have become surfaces." Decq's first large commission, the Banque Popular de l'Ouest in Rennes (1990, in collaboration with with Peter Rice), features the first facade built using double-glazed suspended glass with external sun shades. Since then, she said, "I have been interested in the facade considered as a transparent surface to which layers outside and inside can be added." Some such additions occur inside the glazing itself, as at the MACRO, Contemporary Museum in Rome (2010); others consist of attached components, such as louvres, that create a sense of depth. "As [in] Alice in Wonderland, the way through the looking glass transforms our vision," concluded Decq. Meet Decq and other award-winning designers, fabricators, builders, and academics at Facades+ NYC. Learn more and register today on the conference website.
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Bjarke Ingels and four others unveil designs for the 2016 Serpentine Pavilion and adjacent summer houses

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is unveiling high-profile projects at an unprecedented rate. The Copenhagen- and New York–based firm today released the rendering for its Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Kensington Gardens. The “un-zipped wall” features fiberglass, brick-like elements that pull apart to form space for visitors to stroll through. The design is more linear than most past Serpentines. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wb_zuxSzQE "As you can see from the architect's renders, Bjarke Ingels has responded to the brief for a multipurpose pavilion with a supremely elegant structure that is both curvaceous wall and soaring spire, that will surely serve as a beacon – drawing visitors across Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens to visit the pavilion, the summerhouses and our major exhibitions by Alex Katz and Etel Adnan," said gallery directors Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist in a statement. Four the first time, the pavilion will be complemented by four summer houses. Those will be designed by Berlin architects Barkow Leibinger, Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi, Paris-based architect Yona Friedman and English architect Asif Khan. All of the designs play off of Queen Caroline's Temple, a nearby 18th-century Neo-Classical garden folly. Khan’s design is a series of undulating timber spikes, while Yona Friedman has put forth a modular design meant to reference how cities grow, a reference to his La Ville Spatiale. Barkow Leibinger’s design references a now-demolished building that once sat on the site. Adeyemi references the folly in a void-like negative impression.