Parc de la Villette

For the record, I loved this park before I knew these few tidbits from Wikipedia:
The park was designed by Bernard Tschumi, a French architect of Swiss origin, who built it from 1984 to 1987 on the site of the huge Parisian abattoirs (slaughterhouses) and the national wholesale meat market, as part of an urban redevelopment project. The slaughterhouses, built in 1867 on the instructions of Napoléon III, had been cleared away and relocated in 1974. Tschumi won a major design competition in 1982/83 for the park, and he sought the opinions of the deconstructionist philosopher, Jacques Derrida, in the preparation of his design proposal.

No, really! I can prove it. Here is a portion of an e-mail I sent friends on May 5th, 2008:
[On] the train home I noticed at one elevated point a park that I had seen before, but never really knew what it was. So I hopped off and went exploring.
The park is in the north east part of Paris, around an artificial canal. It extends (the park that is) for miles. Bike trails, people sunbathing, people playing sports on the grass, picnicking, shouting, laughing, running, leaping, gazing, strolling, kissing, lounging, smiling, singing…I took my shoes off and walked barefoot in the grass thinking to myself that I am in a larger, contemporary, live version of Seaurat’s famous “La Grande Jatte.” …

 

I had no idea this place existed in Paris. There were completely modern foot bridges, passages, spaces for basket ball, kids’ playgrounds, and lots of open space, obviously. At the very end of the park, but audible for a half mile before you get there, was a group of maybe thirty drummers and percussionists. They had an audience of hundreds either standing around, or bobbing their heads, or outright jumping around to the beat (ok that last one was just me, but I enjoyed it). And they played a continuous piece for a good thirty to forty minutes. Really, for anybody who is planning on coming to Paris next, I recommend it.

 

Here are some photos of the park and the various structures within it. (photos by Filip Kanački)

This last one a model of the Cité de la Musique, at the end of the park, designed by Christian de Portzamparc.

And here is one of Tschumi’s designs of the red metal structures that punctuate the park. (stolen from New Clear Dawn)


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