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Thread: Redesigning Les Halles (Paris)

  1. #1
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    Redesigning Les Halles (Paris)

    For those of you who know Paris, yesterday it was announced that David Mangin is going to redesing the area known as Les Halles. Les Halles was developed in the 1970s, on a place where before that the big markets had been. The 19070s development wasn't liked that much, so now they're already redesigning.

    See this site (in French): http://www.projetleshalles.com/projet/projetseura.htm

    And for those who don't read French, in the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/16/ar...gn/16hall.html

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    40 million visitors a year and the merchants are OK with letting them rebuild it? It may be ugly as sin, but it doesn't sound like a commercial failure. Ah, to work someplace where aesthetics trumps economy!

    For background on Les Halles, see ablarc's post:
    http://http://www.cyburbia.org/forum...ght=Les+Halles
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  3. #3
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Perfect

    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    Ah, to work someplace where aesthetics trumps economy!

    For background on Les Halles, see ablarc's post:
    http://http://www.cyburbia.org/forum...ght=Les+Halles
    Ain't that the truth......I'll bet one of the unions demanded more jobs and this was the next on the list to be rebuilt.....ha ha ha....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  4. #4

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    Well, but isn't part of the problem that many of these visitors are youths who hail from the suburban Grandes Ensembles and are not quite appropriately...French....to be given such a prominent site.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Boilerplater, thanks for the link. I noticed that when I clicked on the link that none of the photos loaded up (all I got was red x's). Therefore, I'm reposting it here:
    ____________________________________________________________________

    Les Halles, the belly of Paris, covered an area about the size of a university campus with vast glass-roofed metal sheds by Baltard. These sheds had very great architectural distinction –indeed they were mind-boggling since they even covered the streets-- but the real reason to visit Les Halles was the tumult.
















    Through these sheds in the wee hours of every morning passed all the fertile countryside's bounty to be consumed fresh daily in the great city that day, whether to be distributed through myriad tiny food purveyors scattered throughout the city or through the restaurants for which Paris was and is renowned. Les Halles was the wholesale food market through which all this fresh produce passed daily on its way to three million stomachs.

    You can imagine what a raffish place this was, like Fulton Fish Market at 5am, but fifty times as big (no, 100 times). The basic underlayment was frogs in blue smocks pushing handcarts, Gauloises glued to their lips and bobbing manically to the rhythm of their irascible banter. The next layer was hotties in miniskirts with their elegant escorts in Gucci loafers, fresh from platters of pig’s feet and liter mugs of Alsatian beer. Tourists came also to stuff themselves and gawk at all this pre-dawn commotion.

    Some came for the ladies, all lined up in doorways along the rue St. Denis, awaiting after-work visits from their favorite blue smocks and whoever else might happen by with a 500 franc note.




    The bars started to hop around 6am, as quitting time neared. At 10 am, all was quiet; you would find a calmer crew of blue smocks, languidly sweeping up cabbage leaves with willow brooms.

    Think Irma La Douce.


    1970


    1970

    Well, you can imagine the truck traffic all this generated in congested Paris, though fortunately in the middle of the night.

    It wasn’t the neighbors who wanted to get rid of the trucks; the neighbors were the ladies, and they loved the truck drivers. And it wasn’t the truck drivers; why, they loved the ladies. Nor was it the restaurateurs and shop owners: not those who served the market or those who bought there.

    No, it was the sensible guys. They knew that rationally this activity belonged in the suburbs, near the highways that lead from the country, in spacious, antiseptic, purpose-built, orderly and up-to-date facilities featuring: loading docks! parking regulations! fire lanes!

    So they packed up the whole Rabelaisian scene and moved it to Rungis. Well, not quite the whole thing: most of the ladies stayed behind and cultivated a new clientele, while the restaurants and bars tried hard to retain their raffish charm. But without their human props they were forced into vaguely Disney poses: they now had to cultivate their atmosphere; it no longer came on a silver platter.

    But here comes the good part. In all this, the sensible guys had not cooked up a plan for what to put in Les Halles’ place. The one thing they knew was that they didn’t want to keep all that cast iron and glass architecture; it looked too…well, unprogressive. So, because they could not agree, they did the only logical thing: they held an international design competition. With Phillip Johnson as chairman of the Jury.

    The Jury picked some Winners, but the public didn’t like any of them, and neither did the politicians. The public missed their messy markets, and so did the tourists. So the politicians ignored the Winners, and after five or more years of bickering over a now-bleak construction site, they finally came up with…a park and a suburban shopping mall!!


    Les Halles in its [their] final days, 1971. The cleared area in the foreground awaits construction of the Pompidou Centre.


    Halles cleared, Pompidou built, 1978.

    How it sat for a period of years while they squabbled about what to replace it with:


    What they replaced it with:


    They were slightly ashamed of the suburban shopping mall, so they put it mostly underground. The suburbanites cruise in to visit their mall, where they feel comfortable, and think they have spent the day in Paris.
















    Like South Street Seaport, but without any old buildings, and pretty much underground.
    Rational. Progressive. Sensible. Not a pipedream…

    The last word belongs to enzo, on Wired New York: “it looks like it's sucking central Paris down a drain into Hell!”

    The sanitized market in the suburb of Rungis (no smoking):

    No blue smocks.





    You want to See how Les Halles was?: Rent the Billy Wilder movie, Irma La Douce, with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon.
    You want to see how it is?: go down to your local mall in maybe Passaic or Huntington.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    The winner. Believe it!


    Not the winner.



    Here we go again...

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally posted by ablarc

    The winner. Believe it!


    Not the winner.



    Here we go again...
    Hum ... The second picture you have posted is not one of the projects of this competition ... it's a design from Leon Krier for the first competition back in the 1970s ...

    David Mangin's project has been chosen as a kind of masterplan, because it was the most economically sustainable ... but it has been dediced that Mangin won't design any of the actual buildings and park ...

  8. #8
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I hate all of it except for this.

    ...still not clear on exactly why they tore down the original, either. Rash attempt at modernisation? Meh.

  9. #9
    jimi_d's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by maarten
    For those of you who know Paris, yesterday it was announced that David Mangin is going to redesing the area known as Les Halles. Les Halles was developed in the 1970s, on a place where before that the big markets had been. The 19070s development wasn't liked that much, so now they're already redesigning.

    See this site (in French): http://www.projetleshalles.com/projet/projetseura.htm

    And for those who don't read French, in the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/16/ar...gn/16hall.html
    They've picked the best of a bad lot. The only really interesting one of the others was the Maas plan, including a central Paris TGV station at les Halles. All of the projects seem rather lacklustre and none of them seems to have real purpose. Of course, everyone wishes the move to Rungis had never happened, and the 1970s Forum suffers as a result. However, the danger is of replacing the Forum with something worse. Unfortunately, I think all of these plans hold this distinction.

  10. #10
    ...still not clear on exactly why they tore down the original, either. Rash attempt at modernisation? Meh.
    Henry Hope Reed had a great quote about modernism -not very flattering to modernism, wish I could remember.

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