Big in Paris (4)



Rue du Faubourg St Antoine, where the Place de la Bastille marks the transformation of the big east-west axis of Paris to loose all clues of a straight layout. Less monumental, but by no means uninteresting, for many reasons. The Opera Bastille, on the homonymous square, marks the western access; it is one of the most massive buildings in the neighborhood. Often, the bigest buildings are recen ones (appartments in Place Aligre, or the underground sports center designed by Maximiliano Fuksas on Rue de Candie). There is some sort of uniformity despite the rather popular personality of the area and its lack of homogeneity when it comes to building heights. to the south you can visit the coulée verte, an earlier version of New York’s high line (Opera Bastille was the site of a station) and sometimes you find surprises as the gardens of Cité Prost. Coutyards and alleys, too small to be well recognized in this map, are interesting, being a trace of what was the past of the area as a retail and small bussiness hub.

The private realm


Density is just a measure of how many people, or shops, or cars, or whatever you choose to measure is stacked on a given area. Architecture comes in, among other things, when you are able to reach certain levels of density while maintaining a degree of privacy which is compatible with what you expect in a given culture. As much as seeing cementerys says you something about what is the vision of a singular architecture in many european cities (you can sometimes make there what is not allowed in the ordinary city), seeing the courtyards tells you many things about how a culture deals with this privacy issue. This is Paris, the courtyard of a block by the Rue du Commerce (not far to the south from the Eiffel tower).