Monday, June 11, 2007

for your consideration...

... Tony Garnier's Prix de Rome-winning "project for a national bank", of 1899. Image lifted from "Theory and Design in the First Machine Age", in which Banham notes the embarassment "young progressive architects" had explaining how such a formalistic, nonfunctional plan could win a trip to Italy. To get a sense of the
scale, check out the tiny conference tables in the lower third. There were no sections or elevations in the submission.

I almost wish that this had been built, leveling some declared "slum-ridden" portion of Paris in the early part of the last century. Over the years, it would decay and the maintenance costs would skyrocket, until 100 years later (perhaps today), Parisians would decide that the only recourse would be to remove all of the windows and make an enormous enclosed city park, much as they did with some slaughterhouses a few decades back. A now-acclaimed losing entry from that competition would be revived and the marble halls meant originally only for "monumental circulation" would be reinterpreted as badminton courts, skating rinks, and art galleries (and, of course, a boulodrome). The collonades provide perfect goalposts, and the main banking room would become a quasi-open air cafe from which one could watch sumptuous anarchy unfolding in every direction.

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