PRINT April 1986


A park grows in Paris. Bernard Tschumi’s La Villette project.

PARIS—Parc de la Villette, an “urban park for the 21st century.” . . . Client: the French government; architect: Bernard Tschumi Architects, Paris/New York. . . . 125 acres in the northeast of the city, a working class neighborhood bordered by a major highway, an industrial canal, and the new Musée des sciences, des techniques et des industries. . . . Method: dissociation and heterogeneity, resulting from the superimposition of three independent systems of points, lines, and surfaces. . . . Points: a grid of 30 three-story buildings, designated as folies (Fr. madness, unreason), which will house the various programmatic functions, including restaurants, cinemas, video workshops, day-care center, bars, etc. The folies are made up of combinations and permutations of different structural elements. Material: bright red porcelain steel. . . . Lines: two covered gallerias, composed of roofed structures supported by kilometer-long beams, which mark the site an X. . . . A long serpentine curve, designated as the “cinematic promenade,” composed of 25 gardens planned in analogy with the frames of a film. Individual garden designers: Dan Flavin, Rebecca Horn, Daniel Buren, John Hejduk, Peter Eisenman and Jacques Derrida, Tony Cragg, Markus Raetz, Ettore Sottsass, Claes Oldenburg et al. . . . Surfaces: large playing, dancing, running fields edged by double-row “lanes” of trees. . . . Access: two subway stations (Porte de la Pantin, Porte de la Villette), said highway, metropolitan streets, Canal de l’Ourcq. . . . Objective: a new model of the park, based on urban disjunction rather than natural unity, and accounting for instability, programmatic madness (folie), and unprogramed events: a place where you could take the running track through the piano bar and skate in the tropical greenhouse. . . . Opening of first phase: mid 1987. . . . Completion date: 1989.