TERRAIN VAGUE

FROM LANDSCAPE OF SERVICE TO TRANSNATIONAL GEOGRAPHIES

This design thesis constitutes a study of the latent geographies along the transportation infrastructure in Greater Paris and the role these lands can potentially play in the transformation of the currently scattered urban tissue towards a linear model of metropolitan expansion.

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The study was based on Greater Paris as it constitutes one of the greatest examples of uncontrolled expansion, accompanied by considerable disparity between its urban pole and its periphery. Paris also represents one of the greatest European examples of concentric development, in the form of well defined zones. The division between these zones was realised by a physical border, the city walls, which were later substituted by the highway infrastructure. Three concentric orbital expressways divide today the city’s urban fabric establishing barriers and, thus, affecting the right to the city.

Big metropolises of the 21st century face a big challenge: dense urban centers surrounded by diffuse periphery. Paris, serving as a vivid example of this metropolitan battlefield, is studied in this design thesis with particular emphasis on the backbone of the metropolis, the landscape along the infrastructure of mobility and its key role towards a linear model of metropolitan expansion. The method used lies upon three interconnected perimeters; the observation perimeter, where data are provided after on-site survey; the operation perimeter, where the overall strategy is proposed in multiple planning stages and lastly, the in-depth perimeter where three strategically chosen sites are examined in urban scale. These are the sites where the three, main and concentric orbital expressways of the Parisian metropolis intersect with the railway infrastructure. In the first phase densification of the existing urban tissue is attempted. A well-defined park is introduced along the infrastructure, so that the unsettled space of the edge be converted to an urban respite. Once the wasteland is reclaimed, the need arises to construct the urban façade. A built corridor frames the city and in the same time connects the fragmented urban tissue. Facilities of ephemeral life cycle are then hosted inside, enriching the metropolitan lifestyle. Recognizing that Terrain vague, not just in Paris but in every metropolis, stands between city and infrastructure and is therefore characterized by great geopolitical importance, the proposal attempted to promote its economic prosperity and cultural diversity while simultaneously protecting its identity as the expanding limit of the designed environment.