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Speculations on the the stratified city
In a small Parisian art gallery, the exhibition “À la Maison comme à la ville: Quatre projets intempestifs” links Paris to Buenos Aires, through the work of itinerant office Techne-Ar.
This month, the owner of a small art gallery situated in Paris’s 3rd arrondissement decided, for the first time, to exhibit architecture. “À la Maison comme à la ville: Quatre projets intempestifs” (“Both at Home and in the City: Four Unexpected Projects”), an exhibition linking Paris to Buenos Aires, and connecting three architects (Argentinian Arnoldo Rivkin with French Rémi Rouyer and Sébastien Rinckel) is on view until July 26, at galerie Semiose, 54 rue Chapon.
“Many of the artists I represent have a very ‘architectural’ practice’” says Benoit Porcher, owner of galerie Semiose “and that is why I decided to try something different, by putting up an architecture show”.
Rivkin, Rouyer and Rinckel met many years ago, at Versaille’s school of architecture. Together, they developed Techne-Ar, an itinerant office and an intellectual space, in which the three of them can expand on their academic activities, injecting research back into practice. The name Techne-Ar suggests a practice based on fundamentals such as technique, technology, art and crafts, yet proposing solutions for today’s reality, dominated by the explosion of the metropolis, immateriality, and sustainability.
All four “unexpected projects” exhibited at Semiose are potential ones. Mainly lost competitions they remained hitherto unbuilt and are mostly represented by a series of evanescent-like drawings. And why unexpected? Perhaps because they create surprising urban conditions by use of a same red threat: an horizontal green layer or strata, “modelling the inside as much as the outside”, the house as well as the whole urban territory of Buenos Aires. In other words: these projects are many anticipations of what metropolis such as Buenos Aires could become.
The first exhibited project is called “Horizon-horizontal”. It proposes to expand the landscape to another scale, from the single building to the urban. Located between Buenos Aires’ historical city centre, its financial district and the marina, it uses footbridges to go from one urban space to the other. A series of towers also rise from the green canopy, completing Buenos Aires’s skyline in front of the Rio de la Plata.
The same basic principal is then declined over the three other projects. “Édifice-ville”, the head quarter of Buenos Aire’s postal services, is a superposition of strata covered by climatic pneumatic panel (ETFE). “Nouvelles terre”, is an exhibition space shielded by a green canopy and “Openfield", is a market and meeting place, a public space topped by a tower for panoramic dwellings.
Interweaving, reversal and juxtaposition have guided much of these projects inspired, amongst other, by some Argentinean masters such as Mario Roberto Alvarez and Clorindo Testa. One could also think of course of the work of another Argentinian, Emilio Ambasz, with projects such as the 1982 Plaza Mayor for Salamca, one that also remained on paper. And another discernable and more direct influence for Techne-Ar’s recent projects is the work of French practice Lacaton & Vassal. Indeed, between 2008 and 2011, Rouyer, Rivkin, Lacaton and Vassal have collaborated on “La Ville par strates : le projet urbain en coupe”, a major research project financed by French ministry of culture.
The exhibition “À la Maison comme à la ville: Quatre projets intempestifs” is more about a state of mind and method of inquiry than it is about particular potential architectures. Through researching urban diversity these four unexpected projects propose a contemporary utopia: exploiting horizontality in high density cities dominated by verticality.