Portzamparc describes several projects that relate to issues of public space. His Paris Convention Center extension, deals with complex circulation issues, and creates an iconic facade to add character to one of Paris’s more significant public spaces. He also designed a multi-use library, museum, and planetarium Espace des Sciences in Rennes. By combining all three functions into one building, yet allowing each function to express itself architecturally, the audiences for each institution can mingle.
Video Archive Subclip | Yearly Archives1998 (67)
Portzamparc describes his transformation of several modernist residential towers. He attempts to connect the towers to the street, retrofit the buildings so that they are more suitable for contemporary inhabitants, and create a focused public space. Portzamparc proposes the “open block” concept for urban design: building blocks organized around multiuse circulation corridors, i.e. streets. In order to allow light to penetrate deeper, add variety of building types, and avoid urban canyons, his plan does not allow the full perimeter of the block to be built. This would allow a variety of architects to build buildings conforming with this plan, as was done in the Massena neighborhood in Paris.
Where modernists ignore void space when designing cities, Portzamparc advocates returning to classical notions of urban design, where the street is a multi-use circulation path to which buildings align. Modernism was successful in housing large numbers of people, however styles that are alienating can be considered succesful.
Portzamparc describes some early urban design projects, a huge hotel for Disney, and
an earlier water tower redesign for Marne-la-Vall?e which was built and provided a central focus for the city. He discusses the nature of urban design at the end of the modernism, when the traffic engineers were left in charge. Portzamparc’s strategy is to design buildings, like the Les Hautes Formes social housing project, which shape not only the built space, but the void surrounding the buildings.
Portzamparc describes his project for the Cit? de la Musique near Paris. It consists of a large music and performing arts school, and concert hall complex. It is not a monolithic building, but rather interconnected blocks. For acoustic reasons, rooms with parallel walls are undesirable, so the design of each block is different and suits the purpose. He also created very open interstitial public spaces to encourage students to meet, where you are engaged but not necessarily performing.
Portzamparc describes a couple of concert halls he has designed. The Luxembourg Philharmonic is located beside a office tower in a relatively non-descript square. He designed a facade of columns, letting light into the building, but blocking views of the surrounding buildings to create an open interior space. The design of the main concert hall has an ambiguity of space, which Portzamparc feels is ideal for listening to music. He also designed a concert hall for Nara, Japan, where he shaped the concert hall like a M?bius strip, which works well acoustically.
Neil Denari introduces Christian de Portzamparc as an heir of modernism, who has dealt with modernism’s demise and aftermath with humanism and poetry.
Jon Jerde presents a series of projects built around the world. He describes his projects in Japan, including Canal City Hakata in Fukuoka, which included water and nature in a mixed-use center. Jerde examines the development of Universal
CityWalk, stressing the establishment of a formal language that responds to the context of Los Angeles. He documents a master-planning project for the island of Mallorca, noting the historical context, geography, and the process of collaboration with a local architect.