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Parisian Lullaby

Hagai Ben Naim

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dmadsen, hanley wood, llc

Project Name

Parisian Lullaby

Project Status

Concept Proposal

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Project Description

Second Prize, Fairy Tales 2016 Competition

Past the Eiffel tower and across the Seine, the new master plan of Clichy Batignolles is being built. It’s so new you won’t even recognize that it’s Paris. New buildings, new roads, new functions, new everything. No Haussmann, that’s for sure! The real jewel of the whole project is its central park. Enormous in size, it’s the beating heart of this newly planned territory. Apart from being so well-planned, a great location for kids and a heaven for joggers, this park is a major part of the neighborhood’s infrastructure: it’s the main circulation axis from north to south. It’s a life line. It’s the spatial incarnation of the freedom of movement. Its value is immeasurable. Neighborhood residents are so lucky to have this park and yet… mysteriously… they close it up every evening at twilight until the strike of dawn, like every other park in Paris. Isn’t that peculiar? Well, the local planning agency tries to sell this story that it’s because of security issues, but actually it’s a bit more than just a “security issue”.

After sunset, when the moon rises and the park’s gate is closed, darkness falls over romantic Paris and reason falls asleep. Then, another world wakes up. A world of anxieties and madness, of crime and dirt, where you can’t find logic, right angles or straight lines. A world where you can meet your worst nightmares, your flash-lust fantasies and other such earthly delights. And under the cover of night, this havoc hacks out of its cage and unleashes its awful contents into the park. It crawls up from the basements of new buildings and oozes out from brand new water and sewage pipes. It tumbles down from the sky and slithers out between the roots of seemingly old trees. Its beasts touch the ground of the park, celebrating their time to step upon the land that human consciousness seeks to rule and order.

When the clock strikes midnight this havoc shatters the park into pieces, tearing apart its plan, form and function. Napoleon III watches from his dark grave as his city crumbles as creatures of the underworld crush the urban ethos of Paris that he, through Haussmann, Alphand, Barillet-Deschamps and Belgrand worked so hard to forge. As an appetizer, the beasts start nibble away at Haussmannian buildings. Tschumi’s La Villette is the main course. In an act of rage, Perrault’s National Library is pierced a thousand times. The Notre Dame rises up in a desperate suicidal gesture. The Arc of Triomphe is plunged into the waters of oblivion, never to be seen again. Pei’s Louvre Pyramid is smashed into countless shards of glass. A stake is stabbed in the back of the much maligned Montparnasse Tower.

Space and place are dismantled and demolished, turning into a continuous sea of sewage and filth. Paris empties itself of its content; no Genius, no Loci, no Zeit, no Geist. The heart of French culture is broken. All that’s left is fear and sorrow and sex and death. It’s not clear whether the sun will ever rise again, as the gloomy moon has already been butchered. Prostitutes rule the streets, and drug dealers crown themselves as kings. Murder, crime and illicit sex celebrate freely in the dark corners. Animal sacrifices and wild creatures and meat and alcohol and lust and disease and androgynous bodies and blood and porn and little kids watching and homeless people crying and knives and weapons and psychopaths and smoke and fire and poison and immigrants and radicals and war… and… and… god save us all!

It’s a wonderful Parisian night. All of the neighbors are there, dressed to the nines, nibbling on gourmet appetizers and fancy desserts from the well-placed buffet and drinking the finest champagne. The Clichy Batignolles model room couldn’t be more welcoming, alight and tidy. At the grand opening everyone is so proud of this new urban project. The mayor finishes his kind words to the honorable crowd “… and that’s why we’ve made this considered choice to close up the park at night. You should all know it’s for your own safety and that of your children”, his soft, diplomatic voice echoed the fine and firm walls of the room. “French culture is strong, and will keep on going” he states, “we must sustain its strength”. Loud applause rises up from the public. You see, the fence protects Paris from falling apart. It protects the entirety of French culture from collapse. It protects us.

Yes, it must protect us… it must!


- Courtesy Blank Space
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