Le Maintien de la Vie dans la Ville: Maintaining Life in the City
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Paris’ population, throughout its modern history has sculpted a unique urban culture for itself. An ambiguous realm between the intimate and the public has evolved as a result of the political and economic influences experienced by the residents and immigrants in this city. Within this realm there is a typology and morphology that has a unique capacity to support both intimacy and privacy. This realm has the capacity to extend and restore a dimension of public space and experience that was eroded by the modern rushing stream. The morphology, while extending the public also frames the thresholds that are needed to maintain a sense of private and intimate space. My interest in historical typologies and the reuse of existing buildings for contemporary living led me to choose a vacant building in Paris as the site for a rehabilitation project. I began this project with a historical study of Paris. The trends in Paris’ residential architecture and urban development from 1528 to present day coupled with my experiences of living and working there, made up the background for this thesis. There was one dialectical theme that continually recurred throughout my research: The desire and necessity of public life contrasted by the yearning to retreat and protect the intimate, private life. The recognition of this theme helped me to form a better understanding of the individuals that make up the collective population of Paris and how their perceptions of personal space require certain thresholds to maintain their sense of comfort and security. The project that resulted was an attempt to mediate the distinct perceptions of this dialectic. The rehabilitation of the derelict building and the projected possibilities for rest of its block were meant to reconcile the display and retreat that characterized the renaissance period with the transparency that was introduced by modernity into Paris’ city centre in the 19th and 20th centuries.