Palais de la Porte Dorée : « a cheerful alternative to the imposing and intimidating staircase »

The Nest by Tadashi Kawamata
Photo : Construire

18/2/10 – Heritage – Paris, Palais de la Porte Dorée – The Canard Enchaîné, in its column « The sound barrier » (Le mur du çon), selects an award winner every week.

It would no doubt do well to honour in one of its upcoming issues the architect Loïc Julienne, in charge of installing the work of Tadashi Kawamata which is to be placed against the façade of the Palais de la Porte Dorée (see article). Construction for the project is supposed to begin soon and is firmly opposed by many as reflected in press articles already published or soon to appear (see notably the text by Adrian Goetz in Le Figaro of 11 February 2010, alas missing from this newspaper’s internet website).

When interviewed by Carole Lefrançois for the Sortir supplement in Télérama, the architect presents some particularly pertinent arguments. This is about “domesticating the building” (sic). The Kawamata footbridge will be, and I quote, “a cheerful alternative to the imposing and intimidating staircase of the present entrance”. The poor fellow must be a particularly sensitive person to be so intimidated by a set of stairs. Any excuse goes when one has decided to act : the building is thus described as “cold and austere”. Fortunately : “this exceptional work [he is of course referring to Kawamata and not to Laprade’s building] will be marvelously integrated into the museum”. Visitors will admire the integration of a structure which he nevertheless admits will hide “part of the reliefs on the façade”.
But we have left the best for last : the architect concludes by saying, and he attributes these words to an Architect of the Bâtiments de France, that the Nest (the name of the Kawamata work) is “finally a form of redemption for this former Colonies Museum”. Repenting is definitely the latest trend : today, even historical monuments are supposed to ask for forgiveness.

Didier Rykner, jeudi 18 février 2010

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