Thursday 12 June 2014

Sunshine and Rain

As the Metro on the line 2 moves outside and up onto its aerial section between Colonel Fabien and Jaurès you may catch a glimpse of a rather peculiar message. Despite having trains thundering past their windows for nearly 20 hours a day, the residents of one apartment are more concerned about the sun...which seems to be threatened in this location.

Meanwhile, in a unique and incredible museum a few streets from here, it is the rain that is causing headaches. The microclimate over the 10th arrondissement is a little menacing at the moment...

At 117 Boulevard de La Villette, someone has gone to the trouble of producing a large banner with a very intriguing message: "La ville de Paris veut nous voler notre soleil" (the city of Paris wants to steal our sun). In small print underneath is an even more curious qualification: "Pour un jardin partagé" (for a community garden).

When reading this, several questions immediately spring to mind. How can a community garden block someone's sunlight, and where could the city of Paris possibly squeeze in a garden near here anyway? Alongside these physical questions bubble up more metaphysical queries. When we buy an apartment, do we also own the sunlight that we find there? How much is sunlight worth in such transactions, and can the city of Paris simply steal it away? 

The message seems to be linked to a demolition project next door, but I can find no definite confirmation of this. When I take the line 2 in future months though I will keep a look out for a new multi-story shared garden.

Perhaps more seriously, the climate is threatening the very existence of one of the world's most unique museums. The Musée des Moulages at the Hopital Saint Louis, which I have already written about on this blog, has a leaky roof and insufficient funds to shore it up.

The museum is in fact a collection of wax moulds produced by Jules Baretta, a man who had previously only produced reproductions of fruits and vegetables. The moulds capture the sometimes extremely gruesome afflictions suffered by patients at the hospital in the 19th century, a centre that specialised in skin conditions. For many years the collection served a medical purpose, and was used in the training of junior doctors. Today it is seen more as a work of art, but the collection may soon become completely virtual.

Although the collection is being digitally archived (see here), you can help save the historical site at the hospital, and keep it open to (rare) visitors. More details can be found on the museum here (in French), and this is the form to fill out if you are able to help (also in French). They need to find €600,000 - or for the city of Paris to guarantee only sunshine in this corner of Paris!

> This video gives a glimpse of the museum and highlights the problems facing it today.


Annabella Bray said...

Perhaps dear IP, these good citizens are complaining that the City is planning to build a structure that will obscure the sun from an already-established community garden......? peut-etre? Unfortunately i am not a resident of Paris so i cannot verify my theory :) bon chance!and thanx for your interesting observations.

thbz said...

The small building next door is being demolished, to be replaced by a higher building ( ).

So they would prefer a community garden to be created there instead... Unfortunately, they live in Paris and you have no right about what's in front of your windows.

Adam said...

Thanks for the information thbz. It seems somewhat ironic that the architects mention the 'blinding light' as you come out of the tunnel on the Metro and first glimpse the building! They also say that there design is a gift to the Haussmannian building opposite (where our friends live) as it provides elegance and balance. I'm not sure our friends agree!

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