University of Michigan, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
critics: Clement BLANCHET & Jono STURT.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Olivia LU-HILL: This studio’s aim was to create a proposition for the Montparnasse Tower in Paris, infamous for being tall and out of place, the glass cladded skyscraper sits in the middle of the quaint low-rise limestone city. My project examines the issue of nostalgia and preservation historical architectural identity in a modernizing city.
The project’s proposition is based on the concepts the Flaneur, as Walter Benjamin writes in “The Arcades Project” the Flaneur translates to a stroller and existed in the late 19th century Paris as Dandy gentleman who strolled about the Parisian arcades walking his turtles without any specific destination in mind. With the Haussman renovation the arcades were torn down and the automobile was introduced, the quickened more efficient pace of life left the Flaneur’s stroll awkward, inefficient and out of place. In my project the Flaneur of the 19th century is a metaphor for historical buildings in increasingly dense and efficient cities, as taller sleeker buildings go up, older buildings are left as items that take up place to indulge in nostalgia. My project proposes a ritual for historical preservation in Paris. The proposal includes a factory in which buildings which are set for demolition would be voted on and one would be selected every 10 years to be preserved through resurrection onto a mobile platform. These building zombies wander the streets in a Flaneur-style, uprooted from their original context and without a home and with no purpose, thus embodying unwanted loitering around and haunting their original context. The act of resurrection and parading the dead has links to France through Madame Tussad who was famous for creating wax figurines of from molds and forms of the decapitated or recently deceased. The mobilization of the architecture is manifestation of the placelessness of historic building in this modernization of a city leading to a literal loitering and haunting of its original context. This ritual proposal for the modernization of Paris, seeks to both playfully depict an alternative reality while literalizing and manifesting the issue of the role and methods of historic preservation.”
sP: What or who influenced this project?:
OL-H: I grew up watching Hayao Miyazaki’s films and his methods of storytelling and character of entourage inspired many aspects of my project.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?:
OL-H: Reading Walter Benjamin The Arcades Project; Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal; and John McMorrough “Ru(m)inations: The Haunts of Contemporary Architecture.”
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?:
OL-H: Sam Jacob, MOS Architects, and Jimenez Lai.