Tag Archive: skyscrapers

Marcel Storr, bâtisseur visionnaire, English Version

Marcel Storr, sans titre 47 - crédit Liliane et Bertrand Kempf

One draws cities for practical and for visionary reasons. Whatever they may draw as preparation, usually builders are preoccupied with cities that can be built and lived in. As in New York, where there is not much difference between the drawings of Hugh Ferriss and the Chrysler or Empire State buildings, in Paris the difference between the visionary city and the one which exists is less clear than in other places. Haussmann’s projects were, for better and worse, the personal dreams of an imagination pierced by perfect boulevards. The Haussmannian approach was a response to practical needs which nonetheless expressed a very particular aesthetic, more even than the projects completed by Robert Moses in New York. The transformations which took place in Paris under the Second Empire, or even some of the grands travaux of the 1980s, were not far from the drawings of a visionary such as Marcel Storr. Consider the Bibliothèque François Mitterand, a strange building all the stranger for pretending to be rationalist. Once built these projects show us the joys and perils of visionary urbanism.

Marcel Storr, Bâtisseur visionnaire, version française

Marcel Storr, sans titre 47 - crédit Liliane et Bertrand Kempf

On dessine les villes pour des raisons pratiques ou visionnaires. D’habitude, les “bâtisseurs” se préoccupent des villes qu’on peut bâtir, où on peut vivre. Comme à New York, où il n’y a pas de différence significative entre les dessins de Hugh Ferriss et les tours Chrysler ou Empire State, à Paris la différence entre la ville existante et la ville visionnaire est peut-être moins nette qu’ailleurs. Les interventions de Haussmann étaient, pour le mieux et pour le pire, des rêves personnels d’une imagination percée par les boulevards parfaits. La démarche Haussmanienne était une réponse aux des exigences pratiques, mais elle exprimait une esthétique très personnelle, encore plus que les projets de Robert Moses à New York. Paris comme elle fut transformée pendant le Second Empire, ou même certains des grands projets parisiennes des 1980s ne sont pas trop loin des dessins d’un visionnaire comme Marcel Storr. Considérez La Bibliothèque François Mitterand, un édifice d’autant plus bizarre pour son rationalisme simulé. Une fois bâtis ces projets montrent les joies et les périls de l’urbanisme visionnaire.

Why I am a NiMBY*

Three times in the past month, The Sydney Morning Herald, the city’s broadsheet of record by default, has published a particularly irritating kind of article on urban density. To paraphrase Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (1999), this is not just a matter of chance. These articles, by the paper’s two resident economists and sole architecture critic, represent a disturbing and powerful tendency to treat cities as economic entities, blobs on a map rather than physical spaces. They don’t realize that you can’t extrude spreadsheets into skyscrapers. Help! The Borg economists are eating Sydney.

East and West: 1 Bligh Joins Sydney’s Big End of Town

No matter how many corners they cut, cities find it hard to outrun their pasts. Early decisions, however casual, however pragmatic, have a way of getting written in stone so that even long after these stones have tumbled, their consequences remain in the correspondence between certain cardinal directions and certain values. However subtle the reality on the ground, north, south east and west take on indelible local meanings. If you stand on George Street and look east down Bridge Street in downtown Sydney, it is easy to perceive the original topography of Sydney Cove, or Warrane as it was known to the Gadigal people. Bridge Street dips down toward Pitt Street and then rises up more steeply toward the Botanical Gardens at the top of the ridge. Along the low point ran the Tank Stream, now covered over, Sydney Colony’s first supply of fresh water and the reason why the city is where it is.

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