Bernard Tschumi’s design for the Parc de la Villette (Paris, 1984-87), noted for its formally striking system of architectural follies, tends to be more opaque than Tschumi’s plan would suggest. Intending the grid of ‘dots’ (follies) to be an anchoring force, a complement to the freedom of program permitted by the ‘surface’ and ‘line’ components of his plan, Tschumi in fact isolates the park from its environs. The grid is never experienced as such by park-goers, resulting in a sense of disorientation and leaving the park stranded in a virtual space, untethered from the site.
A project situated in la Villette should fully integrate itself into the 19th arrondissement; further, it is obliged to confront the site’s historical marginalization, both physical and psychic. Accordingly, Tschumi’s follies are not without their successes; grotesque cadavres exquis, they are recognizable icons that suggest la Villette’s origins as France’s largest slaughterhouse system and wholesale meat market.
This proposal reforms, reprograms and redistributes the follies to serve as sculptural objects (and, in some cases, information kiosks) adorning BNP Paribas’ nineteen major Paris locations, disrupting the sanitized, authoritarian mode of public engagement by means of which banks and other institutions often claim to be integrated into cities and communities.
Proposal developed for Mario Gandelsonas’ Fall 2014 studio at the Princeton University School of Architecture. See higher-res PDF here.