[July 28 2015] : ArtView the gallery
Read our exclusive piece on Eileen Gray’s modernist villa E.1027 from Purple Travel magazine here
Photo Elise Gallant
Gérard Grandval’s spectacular but controversial Choux de Créteil (the Cabbages of Créteil) housing project was constructed southeast of Paris between 1969 and 1974 on an old cabbage farm, as part of Paris’s futuristic suburban “Villes Nouvelles” (New Cities).
The utopic architect built 10 white, 15-story apartment buildings in a cluster. Each was ringed with large balconies, which added living space to public dwellings. As if to anticipate green architecture, Grandval dreamed of plants growing from balcony to balcony, festooning their façades in greenery.
The créteil project directed by Gérard Grandval has become an icon of large-scale utopic architecture and of “new cities” concepts. The controversy concerning this architecture has basically ignored the intelligence — and even the poetry — of such historical architecture.
We shouldn’t fight the architectural history of “new cities,” delighting in one, regretting others. We should realize that the power of an architectural image is as responsible for its success as the conceptual intelligence and monumental value Grandval’s buildings offer those who live there; a recognizable urban sign is an important statement.
Choux de Créteil [the Cabbages of Créteil] is at the very least a recognized place to live. Everyone has his own idea about the petal-shaped balconies, which resemble ginkgo biloba leaves rather than the cabbage leaves of its nickname. The balconies were designed to support vegetation, which was never planted because the first developers were worried about the risk of residents not caring for them. Remaining bare, without their verdant decor, without their vegetalized surface, Grandval’s towers have nevertheless become iconic.
Nowadays, when we are shown a wall of greenery as a sort of panacea for urban anxiety, when we are asked to think that architecture dressed up in greenery is actually more appealing, it is quite possible that the earlier refusal or resistance to add vegetation to Grandval’s buildings has, in a curious, elliptical fashion, further validated the ancestral status of what we call green architecture. Large groups of buildings were surrounded by parks that now look flirtatiously at urban designers seeking density, but very few programs included a plant-covered façade overrun like the vines creeping over the ruins in Piranesi’s famous etchings. Grandval dreamed of a certain image. He seems to have...
[July 27 2015] : ArtView the gallery
“The grid is, above all, conceptual speculation.” – Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York.
For millennia, the grid—in which straight lines intersect consistently at right angles—has dictated our spatial relationships. We might add to Koolhaas: the grid, as conceptual speculation, has proven to be such a useful structure that it now pervades our physical and digital lives. It defines our urban topology, organizes our images, and orders our time. The grid is fundamentally an equalizer. Each city block consists of the same area as the blocks adjacent to it, creating a network ofarchitecture that cannot forgo its rigid Euclidean base. Google arranges its results so that an image of Picasso exists next to one of your pet. In our calendars, we format our... Read More
Text and photo Elise Gallant
You can now donate to Chloë Sevigny’s new film Slow Machine, a screwball thriller about performance and surveillance, on Kickstarter. Click here to find out more