Change ! Forget your school. Resystematize present time”. Metacity deprogrammes itself. Stations become museums, churches become night clubs, offices become housing, palaces become supermarkets, airports become funfairs, sport centres, cinemas, shopping centres. Family splits up, private space merges into the urban space. Rupture becomes link, it is interprogrammation. Does form follow function ?
This reflection on the theme “generic town” is essential from a prospective point of view if we tackle the new concepts of the Musée des Arts et Civilisations, Quai Branly. In fact it is implanted on the last parcel that can be developed. The project is an open letter to Architecture and asks a simple question : What is a museum today ? It is the architect’s duty to question the environment on which he acts and then to examine critically the competition‘s program.
The Metamuseum undermines the frontiers that delimit contemporary architecture from urbanism and creates a new discipline by mixing them up : the Urbatechture. The architect’s tools are put upside down. The traditional hierarchy - street, block of houses, place and boulevard – is abolished. The parcel gives way to the town and offers new territories of urbanisation, i.e. its own networks of substructure. The architecture of the Metamuseum weakens in the suburbs and becomes extrovert in all physical and mental networks. From an Art Quay, civilisations spread in the Metacity that becomes a network of black boxes (telephony, kinetics, data processing, telematics and sound) through which exchanges extend.
The Metamuseum agrees with a fractal logic in which all infrastructure reformat themselves. The exposition’s subject does not lie in an validity which was acquired during colonisations and which is meaningless because it was snatched from its people but it lies in a comparison of crossbreeding of subculture inside and outside the city. Indeed, whereas a global trend electronically connects the whole world to all cultures in a steady fusion of time and space, there is an opposite trend : local cultures assert their belonging to a place. The contemporary space-time maybe appears between these two forces – expansion on the one hand and contraction on the other hand.
The Eiffel Tower, the most visited monument throughout the world, a symbol of Old Europe, has its symbolic concubin in this opposite relation. Indeed the concept is simple and strong : to work the sixth façade ! The glass slab covering the Arts Studios (buried at the quay level) becomes an urban choreography in which the important world events retransmitted by the light reflectors’ photoelectric cells mix in one discontinuous fusion.
Over the top of it, there is a glass frame as the culture contraction in a specific space-time. Anarchistic, it jumps over the barrier that separates Parisian urbanism from the Seine and the beating of its heart is determined by the impulses of the vehicles that cross it at different speed.
The subject’s essence lies in the emptiness that it impregnates.
Emptiness is looking for powers instead of forms, for incorporated things instead of distant ones, for rhizome instead of figurative. The evanescent nature of the Metamuseum can be defined as secret, outlaw phenomena, as mental outside in the physical inside of the city ; from “no suit” to “yes suit”, a hidden and independent process slowly creates the distortion of the planned construction in favour of spontaneous construction. An ex-city preparing for the post-city.
In the Metacity there is today a number of urban rituals thanks to which people think about the city. These phenomena are not responsible for the city’s functions or for the common cultural activities. They appear in a spontaneous, unconscious, random way or are the results of inadequate applications.
Since Plato the definition of “somewhere” has had two simultaneous and contradictory states : the lecture “space as a place” and the chora “space as a making”. The chora is located in the physical and mental centre of the project. It is the receptacle of something between object and place, between container and content.
The volatile nature of society and the changes it brings to architecture have directed the work towards the search for a marginal active space going beyond the limits of the programmes. The project is thus lightened with regard to material and form. Finally this project turns on the anticipation of probably changes generated by the speed revolution in the perception of space and time.
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