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40 years after the construction of the first buildings, the Pavillon de l’Arsenal revisits the Olympiades district and its half century past rich in architectural thought, controversy, citizen debates and engagement at the heart of the city of Paris in general and the 13th arrondissement in particular

This remarkable project was presented to General de Gaulle, exhibited at the Grand Palais as well as at the Hotel de Ville and advertised in the Equipe and France Soir newspapers. It was masterminded by the architect and the urban planner Michel Holley and was at the core of the concept of a modern Paris laid out in the “Italie XIII” project; “the vastest urban planning initaitve since Haussmann.” The historian and exhibition curator, Françoise Moiroux, explores the urban, political and social elements of vertical urban planning and platform architecture through the prism of the Olympiades area.

Redeveloped to take into consideration new public infrastructure and platformed pedestrian zones, the area is home to eleven thousand and has proven to be an incredible source of opportunity. The Olympiades district stands out in the bold variety of its program (housing, commercial and office space, equipment and train station) as well as its residential offering. This immense diversity has engendered a social mix rare to find on a large scale encompassed within such a pronounced architectural unity.

Today, the area benefits from excellent public transportation which links to the major poles of the city, most notably the Paris Rive Gauche university quarter. These new aspects coupled with the incomplete platform architecture toward the south of the district raise the question of what will be in the future.

The exhibition was designed by Aurélien Gillier and evokes the gridded urbanism of the era. The visitor is guided through a continuous and thematic urban account punctuated with historic documentation, site photos, video testimonials, original and unreleased sketches by Michel Holley and much much more. An original photograph by Vincent Fillon affords a contemporary review of the “urban aircraft carrier” from the platform which houses Asian commerce to the “quadrangular fortress” appartments as described by Michel Houellebecq.

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