Paris, seeking for a scale?
Learning from the outside
In March, light will be focused on Paris through architecture and urban projects that question the fast growing interdependence of spatial and temporal scales.
The increasing intimacy between the physical and telematics worlds, combined with the always growing effects of globalization, exert a crucial influence on the way we question cities and societies as urban investigators. It seems now limited to design an architectural or urban project based on the exclusive study of the physical and conceptual context of the operation itself. In front of the impact generated by new territorial technological areas and the growth of mobility, adapting our approach seems strategic to face the rapid changes in our lifestyles.
The selected projects represent this design philosophy, crossing scales, seeking for potentials out of the city center where all the eyes are generally focused. Now, it’s time to cross the line, to see beyond the touristic and traditional mediatic perimeter of the parisian city center.
Across the limit…
The “Suburb” is not a uniform entity, even though naming that way everything that is across the Périphérique (ring road that follows the city limits) unconsciously generates this confusion. The current public transportation extension project of the Grand Paris has a crucial role to play in the disappearance of this unconscious barrier. For many Parisians today, whether visiting somebody or going into a precise place, the suburbs are places you have to cross more than you choose to. The gigantic parking lot and a commercial center on the way to go to the Maison des Arts (literally “Arts House”) in Créteil, which is a territorial scale equipment, is an example among many.
Yet, the suburbs show a lot of aspects of the Parisian urban area that don’t exist within Paris itself. Montreuil, for example, which is a bordering suburb, is the host of a progressive and distinctive cultural take-off. These developing local qualities are potentially what makes the suburbs livable and rich. Many of them offer a desirable everyday life distinct from the Parisian life. However, today the suburbs can exist for themselves as long as there is a reasonably dense connexion with the city center itself. If their quality of life are being opposed to the ones of the big city, both should be experienceable simultaneously.
Suburbs are therefore a particular area of experimentation which has developed its own identity, far from the codes of the city-center. It is these distinct qualities that make the center/suburb couple complementary and consistent.
… And beyond.
Provincial territories located out of the parisian radius are gradually becoming more and more autonomous from the capital. Just like Toulouse and Strasbourg, secondary centers and regional capitals thrive to become more attractive than the capital itself. For a long time forgotten by the medias and bending under the weight of the capital, medium-sized cities are now the subject of an increasing mediatic recognition.
New technologies have a role to play in this emancipation. The continued improvement of public transports and circulation of information gradually blows spatial and temporal barriers. For example, many FabLabs settle through the territory, especially where investments are not traditionally going to, offering an alternative development model.
These decentralization dynamics are supporting an active movement of empowerment on various scales, from the individuals to the metropolis, from suburbs to global networks… The possibilities of interactions are infinite, and attempt to reduce the traditional development shift between the active centers of globalization, such as Paris or London for instance, and the suburbs and other peripheral territories. As architects and inhabitants of the big metropolis, we have to open our field of investigation, and to embrace these increasingly dynamic territories. Gaining autonomy, they are more open to experimentation, growing and changing fast and are privileged territories for the creation of the city of tomorrow.
Author: Rotating Editor Paris