Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Viaduc des Arts

This is the promenade plantée, la ligne verte, or the viaduc des arts... an old nineteenth century railway bridge that fell out of use as all trains were brought into a state monopoly. It was ruined for a while, and the city considered tearing it down and putting something horrible without any character in its place, but then Paris came to its senses and turned it into an elevated park, a few meters wide and over a kilometer long. It feels like a picturesque promenade in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century sense: designed for a wandering, observing eye, and offering a varied panorama to look at.

The space underneath the arches that is not occupied by a cross-road, as shown here, has been turned into commercial space and tends to be inhabited by all sorts of fashionable design shops, third world import shops, and cafés...



The viaduct was redesigned by Patrick Berger in the late 1980s. He took his cue from an 1858 L'Illustration article, which describes the viaduct as being designed to have open arches faced in brick with stone dressings, in a style of which `the nearby Place Royale (Place des Vosges) offers such an elegant specimen', with the columns of the cast-iron bridges over the cross-streets exactly aligned on the trees bounding the Avenue.




Someone who may or may not have his feet photographed elsewhere in this blog, having a look at the traffic whizzing beneath him on the boulevard just below...

Because the viaduc is now a fashionable area to live, very interesting buildings are going up around it, most of them more penthouse-like than this one, but I liked this because it has such great organ-pipes attached...or is it just an old factory?


the traces of railroad trestles in the floor?


No fish... but fabulous little old ladies far away at the end of the picture... people were surprisingly wonderfully well dressed on the Viaduc.



Here is the park at Reuilly that the viaduct more or less ends at...gorgeous and alien at the same...although the park's pathway does continue for maybe another 0.4km as a sunken park converted from another old railtrack. It's also pretty, though not quite as nice as being up above the world...


As the Architectural Review comments: "Aloof from traffic noise and exhaust fumes, it offers a series of unexpected views -- from glimpses of the city's intimate anatomy in close-up, to plunging urban vistas through branches of the trees bounding the road below. Moreover, not only does this new linear pedestrian park revive the device of the elevated promenade (provided by the seventeenth and eighteenth century Paris boulevards on the city ramparts, and by the raised pavements of Bath and Bristol) but it demonstrates, too, that CIAM notions of vehicular and pedestrian traffic separation were not totally misguided."

Will narrow several meters wide elevated parks become the norm in cities?

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