PARIS. REDEVELOPMENT OF THE LES HALLES DISTRICT 1979
COMPETITION PROJECT - 1979
with M. Beccu, F. Caparacchio, G. Muratore, F. Raimondo
In the large “void” opened up in the Parisian district of Les Halles by the short-sighted demolition of Baltard’s splendid iron pavilions, the project positions a “solid” that ‒despite being very unpopular in comparison to the winning idea of constructing buildings on the site, as in the Forum and Beaubourg areas, which would be foreign to it in functional terms and even more so on a formal level as they are lacking in any connotations of the historic growth of the city ‒ proposes developing a part of the city and a series of buildings con- structed with typological and morphological materials with architectural ends comparable to those of buildings from di erent periods that already exist in the district or deriving from other European cities. Following these and other similar considerations, the project proposes an orderly series of solid constructions, which are as complex as required in this part of the city, meeting the primary functions of the historic city and reflecting both its planimetric compactness and its summary volumetry. From the home to the small market, from the hotel also able to house numerous offices to the studio, from the schools to the swimming pools, from the private centre to community activities, from artisanal workshops to the dance school, the functions and values exist alongside each other in their diversity, where even this diversity had been officially eliminated by the systematic affirmations of a widespread functionalist morality. As a result, only the strati cation of the city on the city and of architecture on architecture can safeguard and penetrate the development of this subtle and complex diversity.
The project proposes adopting easily recognizable construction types and forms that range from the courtyard home to the shopping centre, from the low-density vertical building to the colonnade-lined street, in order to construct a fabric of formal, functional and social relationships that will produce a collective image of the city, deeply rooted in the memory and culture of its inhabitants.
The particular quantitative importance attributed to the residential functions and the well-structured symbolic value given to the buildings destined simply for retail and community activities give the project as a whole an immediately and easily identifiable profile. These buildings provide a measure of the space and urban functions able to ward o the evident fractures produced by the recent transformations this place has undergone. The architecture proposed for the city, over and beyond the immediate morphological appearance of the project, presents itself as a stage inscribed in the continuity of history, culture and the material evolution of the district. It is designed to familiarize itself with the built-up area that is often lost, seeking to avoid mimicking its style, instead dialectically searching for a match with those primary functions that define the specific nature of the urban tradition through their interaction.
An urban condition made up of buildings, streets, squares, workshops, galleries, symbols, signs and values that overlap in order to create a landscape that we are used to deciphering in its artificial naturalness.