Monday, 17 September 2012
On September 17th 2008 I published the first post on this blog - or rather first posts. The initial post was a mission statement, an attempt to define a blog that has since always remained rather slippery and amorphous. The second was the first real post, a look at the Grand Garage Haussmann car park, a type of building that has become something of a recurring theme ever since.
Nobody commented on that first post. Indeed, looking at the Blogger stat tool, it seems that the page has only ever been visited 170 times in four years. Starting a blog is something of an irrational activity though, and it takes a good period of time before you move beyond the feeling that you are merely communicating with yourself.
Much has changed in Paris over those four years, and several places that I have written about have either closed down or changed radically. This is not something that I lament however, as cities must evolve to survive. Like the urbex fans who wander around modern-day industrial ruins, it has never been my goal to seek preservation, but rather to highlight the forgotten and overlooked before it disappears.
Is the Grand Garage Haussmann one of the city survivors? As I noted in my original post it apparently hadn't changed in the first 70 years of its existence, so why should it have changed in the last four? I went along today to confirm, and was pleased to see that it was still as scruffily spectacular as ever.
In 2008 I noted with appreciation the architecture and design of the building, without paying too much attention to its story or to the characters behind it. Now I'm curious to know from exactly when the building dates, and who was its architect.
Looking on this blog - which has since often been of immeasurable assistance to Invisible Paris - it seems that the land on which it was built belonged to a certain Mme Van Droogenbroeck. After first attempting to build an eight and then a six-story apartment block on the site, she eventually settled on a project for a four-story car park. Planning permission was given in 1938 for a building designed by a mysterious architect listed only as Mousty, based at the time at 37 rue de Chaillot in Paris.
Although built as war broke out, it has survived unchanged for over 70 years and still retains a lightness, a timeless elegence and charm, and - with its red and white checkerboard facade - a certain joie de vivre. On top of this, it still clearly serves a useful purpose in its surroundings. It is a longevity we can all aspire to!
Posted by Adam at Monday, September 17, 2012