Sunday, 21 February 2010

space with undesignated use

Here is a curious space. On the roof of a shopping centre in the predominantly Chinese and south Asian neighbourhood of Olympiades (13th arondissement) a space of about 5 by 10 metres is delineated by a low wall. So low I'm not sure it qualifies as a wall. It has a clear entrance, carefully positioned to bring one in to the space diagonally.

Perhaps it is a space that was supposed to become another Vietnamese restaurant, or a shop selling brightly coloured plastic kitchenware, flourescent pink fake lotus flowers, and those ornamental cats with a waving arm.

At the moment it is a space for doing whatever you want (within the realms of what is acceptable to do in any public space).

above and below

Quartier des Olympiades, 75013.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

street poem

passage de la boule blanche white ball passage cour du bel air bel air courtyard passage du chantier building site passage cour du nom de jesus jesus' name courtyard cour de l'etoile d'or golden star courtyard cour des trois freres three brothers courtyard cour de la maison brulee burnt house courtyard cour de l'ours bear courtyard passage de la bonne graine good grain passage cour du saint esprit spirit saint courtyard passage de la main d'or golden hand passage

passages and courtyards along the rue du faubourg st antoine, 75011/12 M bastille / ledru rollin

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Fishmonger House

This house is just around the corner from the 1980's house, in the rue de la Mare. It struck me as a sort of distant cousin - another curious part mosaic facade expressing a collision of ideas.

Even in its original state as a fishmongers there is something a little odd, the mosaic fish are ordinary goldfish, rather than appetising salmon, trout or sea bass. Domestic goldfish. As if the facade was already prepared to become a house.

The transition from fishmongers to house looks like a disjointed process. First it stopped being a fishmongers and the shopfront was blocked up. Then it became a house, and instead of using the wide original opening, a standard window, like the windows above, was just punched through the new wall. A window sitting uncomfortably in a window.

rue de la Mare, 75020

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Passage du Plateau

This is the passage du Plateau.

It is 105m long and a little over 1m wide. The narrowest measurement I took was 103cm (at the rue du Plateau end), and the widest 123cm (quite near the middle).

There are fourteen doors and gates to houses and flats along it. Six on one side and eight on the other.

If you pass someone you have to slow down, or slightly turn your shoulders, or not mind brushing up against them. Or all three at once.

Passage du Plateau, 75019

London Peripherique

Can a road define a city?

Paris is notoriously squeezed within the confines of its peripherique. Thirty four kilometres of six to ten lane motorway. Thirty six years old. Hidden in a tunnel in the wealthy west. Its red and white stripes of traffic exposed for all to enjoy in the poorer east. Twin towers, shiny towers, towers with names, the Eiffel tower seen from all sides, all sizes. Approximately 2 million people live within the peripherique. Beyond it lie the banlieues - the suburbs. Are they not Paris too? No. They are the banlieues. They are separate.

London is also circled by a motorway, but it is way out beyond the edge of the suburbs, a tarmac ring running through the 'green belt', the zone of golf courses, farmland, stately homes, go-karting tracks, glittering shopping centres, Victorian asylums, woodland, industrial estates, and airports (see London Orbital by Iain Sinclair, Granta 2002, for a detailed exploration, on foot, of the M25 environs). The green of the green belt merges into suburb, densifies to grey, it is all London. London is a collection, an association, a series of towns and in between places.