Jolien Boas @ Tu Delft – Explore Lab, April 2018
The project experiments with cities and their atmospheres and in particular how one can preserve these atmospheres through the process of gentrification. The project immerses itself in Rue du Faubourg du Temple, a Parisian multicultural shopping street, to understand exactly which qualities of this street are responsible for its authentic atmosphere. Through the use of text, drawing and photo (analogue and digital) the site is further investigated and documented. Through the collapsing of all the material into one grand visualization of the whole street (itself divided into six intersections each accompanied by a book which explores layer by layer the different constituents of the street) the identity and intervention needed is revealed.
Using architectural design as a tool the project exaggerates these qualities in order for them to survive the effect of gentrification. The result is the extreme design of a roof over the street supported by numerous carefully positioned columns, which create spaces to house the different qualities. This is explored through a series of ‘collaged’ visualizations which try to show how the street can be used throughout the year, a direct result of the method through which the project itself is approached.
What prompted the project and what defined Rue du Faubourg du Temple as site?
After studying at TU Delft for several years I was feeling the urge to experiment with formulating a design task. Within my studies a project site and program were often given after which similar kind of techniques were used to analyse this site. With these methods I was often feeling like I was not completely grasping the site and therefore it sometimes felt like my design was not enough related to its location. I became inspired by techniques of The Situationnists and I started making dérives through the inner city of Paris, not knowing where it would lead me. I discovered Rue du Faubourg du Temple, a long shopping street from Place de la République towards Belleville forming the border of 5 different districts. Since the street is so long and crossing through many different areas a change of atmospheres is feasible. This sensation was something that was attracting me; it made me curious. What defined these atmospheres? Were these atmospheres having borders? How is one atmosphere flowing over into another one? These were all questions that I wanted to answer.
How important was the photograph as a tool to record the street? Did you us any other mediums which would capture other senses?
I’m fascinated by analogue photography, therefore this was a tool that I wanted to use while capturing the atmosphere of Rue du Faubourg du Temple. The advantage of working with analogue photography is that I have a limited amount of films to shoot. This makes me much more critical about what I’m documenting so therefore I’m opening up my senses completely. Another advantage of analogue photography is that after developing the films, I immediately have the photos printed. I used these prints to cut out and compose the elements of the street that were most important. Sometimes the photos were capturing too much information; in that case I also used drawings to extract important details. Another medium that I used a lot was making notes. While immersing myself in Rue du Faubourg du Temple I always had a notebook on me. In this notebook I wrote down everything I experienced. Sometimes I did this by text and other times with small sketches.
When operating from TU Delft what other mediums did you use to navigate/learn from and of the site?
During my studies at TU Delft we often used the same type of techniques to learn the site of a project. If the location was somewhere in The Netherlands we would maybe go there for one afternoon, but when it was a bit further away this was not always possible. If it was possible to visit the site we would walk around, take notes, photos and make sketches. Afterwards, back at the faculty, we would use these experiences in combination with information from the Internet to make an analysis of the whole site. These analysis were always built up out of different themes such as; history, circulation, program, water, greenery etc…
What defined the use of the photomontage as medium through which to articulate the project?
While immersing in Rue du Faubourg du Temple analogue photography appeared to be a good medium to document my observations. To visualize the current atmosphere within the street this photography also started to play an important role. I created illustrations using the collage technique in which photo, text and drawing all came together. These illustrations formed the basis on which I made my design decisions. Therefore I chose to use a similar technique to create the visualizations of my final intervention. I played with the montage of photos; photos that I took myself in combination with existing photos of important figures and styles of the French history. I’ve been cutting in all these photos to use the elements that are important to communicate the atmosphere I tried to capture with my final intervention. I then composed these elements within the images of my final design, creating the final atmospheric visualizations.
What defined the use of the ‘fragments’ you choose to feature? How were these evaluated and positioned in relation to each other to form a whole?
While immersing myself in Rue du Faubourg du Temple I discovered that a part is affected by gentrification whereas the other part is still possessing it’s authentic identity. Looking at the future I predict that this part will eventually also undergo gentrification, after which it will loose its authenticity. With my intervention I’m proposing a future scenario for Rue du Faubourg du Temple, giving space for gentrification since this is an inevitable process, but also creating space for the important qualities of the current identity so that these will continue to exist. I defined these important qualities using the illustration that I’ve created of the current identity of the street. To give space for these qualities to take place I created a design with which I propose to create a roof over the street. Underneath this roof I composed a collection of spaces using a rhythm of tall and slender columns.
What is ultimately the conclusion of the project? How has this affected how you operate in and in relation to context?
Looking at Paris’ extreme architectural history I created a possible new landmark for the city, tackling gentrification with a different approach. Instead of letting gentrification go its own way I try to manipulate it and use it by creating a future design that gives space for gentrification but at the same time preserves elements of the authentic identity of Rue du Faubourg du Temple.