Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A Brutalist Bridge?

I enjoy more and more taking trips out into the suburbs of Paris, principally because I'm never sure what I'll find. Whereas much of Paris has a homely familiarity to me today, the suburbs can still retain an exotic eccentricity.

Take Suresnes for example. Situated alongside the Seine to the west of the city, it is a working class town that was rapidly gentrified due to its proximity to the La Defense business district (it was in Socialist hands for 40 years and is twinned with Hackney, but has now been firmly under right-wing control for nearly 30 years). This contrast between the rich and the less wealthy, the modern and the ancient, has left many traces around the town.

What is immediately obvious is that the town must have rapidly grown in the 1960s and 70s, with the architectural styles of this period taking up whole chunks of the town centre. Alongside the standard tower blocks though is something genuinely interesting, and - let's be honest - completely mad too.

Straddling the principal artery through the town is the Ecole des Arts Plastiques - an art school and gallery - but is it a building or is it a bridge? It sits proudly on this main road, seemingly considering itself to be some kind of concrete Ponte Vecchio, but in fact it offers no means of passage across the street.

I am not sure who the architect of this structure was, but it is a fascinating appropriation of the public space, and an installation which is clearly still useful despite the chosen style having long gone out of fashion.

4 comments:

landscapelover said...

What a great, odd thing to spot! I'm not sure it would have struck me how strange it was. But, as you say, once you realise what the architect has done, completely mad...
I remember reading about an apartment block in Copenhagen that has a "bridge" of apartments between two blocks, so you have no-one above or below you, and that's pretty weird too! It's called Brohuset if you want to compare and contrast.

Adam said...

I've found something online about the Danish creation: http://crleth.blogspot.com/2009/05/bridge-you-cant-cross.html.

As Brohuset seems to translate as Bridge House, and as the post mentioning this structure is titled 'A Bridge you can't cross', it does seem to have several similarities!

bgz said...

Great post. Exactly why I want much to get out to La Defense area & just the sort of ordinary exotic eccentric I like your site for.

Peter said...

I paseed under this "bridge" twice a day during years... only now learnt what it is! Thanks! :-)

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