Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Last Comrade on Rue La Fayette

The French Communist Party (PCF) - as we have previously seen - made its mark on 20th century Paris. However, although its two major HQ buildings became iconic addresses, few people know where it all began. A significant clue though remains written next door!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Politics of Place Names

Walk almost any street in Paris and you will be connected to a historical person or event. It is the French way to give streets and public places the names of important people and significant moments in the country’s past, but this policy is almost never neutral. A good example is the Place Kossuth, where a once important building is situated. This is the story of that building and an attack by nomenclature.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Sunshine and Rain

As the Metro on the line 2 moves outside and up onto its aerial section between Colonel Fabien and Jaurès you may catch a glimpse of a rather peculiar message. Despite having trains thundering past their windows for nearly 20 hours a day, the residents of one apartment are more concerned about the sun...which seems to be threatened in this location.

Meanwhile, in a unique and incredible museum a few streets from here, it is the rain that is causing headaches. The microclimate over the 10th arrondissement is a little menacing at the moment...

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

In Situ: Art storms the Fort d'Aubervilliers

Built in 1843 as one of the outposts of the 'enceinte de Thiers' fortifications that were supposed to protect Paris but never did, the Fort d'Aubervilliers has long been a mysterious space in the city's north-eastern suburbs. Originally a military base, it has since been a somewhat dubious laboratory and most recently a vehicle scrap yard. With the latest occupiers freshly abandoning the site, it has finally opened a window of opportunity for public visits before the fort is once again transformed to fit another purpose. This occasion has been grabbed by local authorities who invited the Art en Ville association to run a two-month long In Situ festival bringing together 40 urban artists from across the world. The result is a huge splash of colour in this semi-abandoned brownfield site, and an event that should not be missed.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

A Cabin in a Concrete Cruise liner...for €2 million

Near the Balard Metro station, the French Ministry of Defence is putting the finishing touches to its new HQ, dubbed the French Pentagon. The construction site punctuates the skyline, offering glimpses of shiny new buildings behind high fences, a panorama that we are forbidden to photograph.

Sitting opposite on the other side of the Boulevard Victor, separated by the neat green carpet of the tramway, is another building that is almost military in form. Around 50 metres long - but only 10 metres wide at its broadest point (barely more than 2 metres at its narrowest) - this nautical looking structure though has no connection to its combative neighbour. This is perhaps architect Pierre Patout's finest moment, and a piece of design history that you could today own - if you have €2 million to spare.
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