was paved and sloped, like an amphitheatre, and the three roads bordering it closed to traffic. The piazza became one of the most captivating open spaces in Paris.

The simplicity of the building's spatial scheme is brilliantly conceived. It is divided into several discrete zones. The entrance-level zone accommodates information services, shops and a large internal piazza which complements the one outside. The core zone consists of the floors conceived as open platforms to contain exhibitions, temporary shows and administrative services, with minimum permanent subdivision structure, to be constantly adapted to new needs. (This extreme concept and the initial allocation of functions on each level were later modified.) The top floor is devoted to evening activities, including a restaurant offering a panorama of the city. Two parallel, vertical zones at the front and back of the building. 7 metres wide and 50 metres apart, contain the vertical structure, a series of spun-steel hollow columns 800 mm in diameter, each holding six 10 ton gerber-ettes. These flanking zones also contain circu lation and services. The west, facing the square, accommodates vertical and horizontal circulation systems, lifts, walkways, escape stairs and, hanging on the outside of the zone, a 150-metre-long escalator system moving 3000 people an hour and feeding all levels. The system overlooks the activities in the square and the surrounding facades, and provides a splendid view of Paris.

Seen from the piazza's amphitheatre, the structure and movement, equipment and sen/ice paraphernalia - pipes, cables, decks, stairs, towers, moving stairs and landings, something like a cross between an ocean liner and a space ship - provide a genuine late-20th-century alternative to the late-16th-century Italian architect Serlio's urban piazza backdrop. Interestingly, these elements rise in great accord with the classical facades of the surrounding buildings from previous centuries, a harmony achieved thanks to the colour of the building, its horizontality. its unexpected respect for the height of its neighbouring structures and. most importantly, thanks to an aura of an underlying common spirit of rigour

and robustness which exists between the Centre and the historical structures of Le Marais. The east zone holds all the mechanical services. As one approaches the building by car along the rue de Renard. the multi-coloured contraptions give the motorist a fascinating surprise - but this is not the case if one walks down the less-than-delightful street abutting its front. Finally, the roof zone contains air handling plant rooms (for air processing and ventilation), cooling towers and other such mechanical services.

Movement, change and flexibility were the top priorities of the Centre's programme, according to the architects. This dictated the displaying of all the building's movement systems, whether of people or works of art. all along the two facades. Even potential movement is allowed for in that most divisions, whether vertical or horizontal, can be taken apart and reassembled with ease; even the facades of the building can be disconnected from the columns. And the partitions of the structural movement are themselves movable, of dry construction. 'All (components) are movable and express their movability'. was the credo of the architects, a cry reminiscent of the Futurists and the Constructivists.

Perhaps even more significant than the appearance of the building is its programme, projecting a new way of life. And from this point of view, it can be considered as the last building that reflects the optimism of the Enlightenment. Few can dispute the Centre's architectural consistency in the execution of its programme. What is beyond argument is that its uniqueness does not lie in disembodied ideas about design and construction, but in the way that these ideas serve with great consistency, imagination and vigour a given programme. And in this, the Centre achieves what a grand monument is supposed to do.

(Above) Construction details (Opposite) The roar facade

Alvaro Siza


(Porto. Portugal) 1973-77

In a country where social housing standards had always been inadequate, the Bouga how ing development, when it was completed n 1977. offered, despite its modest standards of quality, an image of lightness, colour ar«3 one might say alegria, something which toi been suppressed in Portugal for a long time.

This urban infill project was commissioned by the residential housing associations set up by the state in the wake of the Portuguese revolution of April 1974. It was intended to accommodate the slum dwellers of Porto wta had been victims, in Siza's words, of 'ttn racketeering, illegal housing, overcrowding and lack of sanitary facilities'.

Like Bruno Taut's 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' hou* 1 ing project for workers (1926-31) and Ahv Aalto's at Paimio (1929-33) and Sua a (1936-39). which Siza explicitly cites as to prototypes, the original design of the Boutf scheme is extremely simple and direct. A spt* wall screened the scheme from the adjoining railway embankment. Perpendicular to this, four linear terraces of double maisonettes formed long courtyards. At the end of each to*. facing the existing urban context, there were public facilities such as a laundry, a library ani shops. Each unit was provided with ever) possible comfort, within the restricted budget without catering to any exceptional demands While alluding to the local tradition of vernacular architecture. Bouga Housing is stripped of any nationalist or scenographic elements. The rows of houses with the spine wall are intend« to 'celebrate the communal values which tne revolution had brought to the surface.'

The project was meant as more than a me* facility or a shelter; it was to be perceived ase cultural statement. It carried within its fabrics commentary on contemporary architecture, life and society. It was a protest against the destruction of community, the splitting of human associations, the dissolution of hum* contact, it was thus one of the most powerfif expressions of the critical regionalist mo*-ment in Europe of the 1970s. Despite its lean, almost poverty-stricken character, its message had a tremendous appeal. Many of its formal aspects were echoed in Europe and around the world for more than a decade, especially in Spain. But it was mainly the implied aura of the scheme that inspired other

(Opposito) Concoptunl skotch

(Loft) Model of the original design, showing the screen wall with four housing blocks projecting from It

(Bolow) Plans and soction

(Bottom) Front facade (left) and rear facado (right)

(Opposito) Concoptunl skotch

(Loft) Model of the original design, showing the screen wall with four housing blocks projecting from It

(Bolow) Plans and soction

(Bottom) Front facade (left) and rear facado (right)

architects and that elevated Siza and his etfteagues of Porto to the status of a school.

Offenng an optimistic message, directness and honesty of expression, this project's regio-nalist populism brings to mind an equivalent tendency that lasted briefly during the late 1950s in Europe. One of its most eloquent and enthusiastic representatives was James Stirling: his Preston Infill Housing (1957-59) adhered to the 1920s and '30s image of modern architecture as an upholder of social democracy without succumbing to its formalist intellectualism.

Bou$a brought back the air of social change m which architecture was a significant partner -but with an innocence which failed to foresee the upheavals of the subsequent stormy years. To the outsider. Siza made it seem for a moment as if the technocratic and bureaucratic developments which had occurred between the 1920s and the 1970s had never existed, and that the purity of the dream of avant-garde architecture remained untarnished. Unfortunately. and ironically, only two short sections of the planned four rows of houses were actually completed because of the lack of sustained political support.

Atelier d'urbanisme, d'architecture et d'informatique Lucien Kroll ZUP PERSEIQNE

ZUP {zone d urbaniser en priority) is a typical, state-subsidized, moderate-income, mega-residential project constructed using indus-trializedtechniquesbetween 1958 and 1969, at the end of the post war wave of massive prefabricated construction in France. This par ticular one provided 2300 units for 6500 inhabitants. Within the first year of completion. 15 per cent of the constructed units showed signs of malfunction. As early as 1971, the ZUP Perseignc had become the object of specialized behavioural research which diagnosed that social life was suppressed by the empty, monotonous and alien spaces spawned by the architecture. As a result of the sociolo gists' recommendation, a therapeutic recon struction of the ZUP was proposed and lucien Kroll. on the basis of his design for La M6m6' in Louvam (1968-72, pp. 44-47), was called to carry it out.

Consistent with his principles. Kroll refused to operate on the old 'pathological' plan as an outsider and to rebuild the project according to a preconceived normative plan. He chose instead to try and "rehabilitate", or restore it to health, in accordance with what the users of the project felt was wrong with it. The first phase of the design consisted therefore in listening, like a doctor and an ethnographer: "listening to the history of the neighbourhood, listening to the inhabitants, individually and collectively." Once the period of diagnostic consulting was over. Kroll and hiscollaborators continued to pursue a participatory approach in implementing the new programmatic directives architecturally.

They inserted new units, planted trees, grew vines, paved paths, added outdoor furniture and lighting fixtures. A haphazard series of two-storey units appeared, creating the impression of a village street. New accesses, balconies, roofs, exterior surfaces, started to grow all over the old ZUP. Finally, and more importantly, changes were also carried out inside a limited number of units- not without a struggle with the local housing authorities - by knocking down walls, thus expanding the unit sizes.

Superficially, Kroll's 'interventions' looked like drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa. This is how a bird's eye view of his generated 'chaos', insertions of units, services and vege-

Opposito) Urban plan

iKight) Kroll's new buildings seen against a background of the oarlier dovelopment

In addition to inserting completely now house«, Kroll also made changes to existing buildings

Below right and far right) A modification to anearlior construction; a rehabilitated facade

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