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Delirious New Park

MagazineREM Editors present OMA’s competition entry for the redevelopment of Parc la Villette. Although unsuccessful, the entry was specially commended by the jury and it’s influence was critical in the development of the field of landscape urbanism.

'The government has decided to put an end to all the activities of La Villette from March 15th 1974. From 1974 there will be the opportunity for the large scale regeneration of the urban design on the newly available lands.'1

The public institution of Parc de La Villette believed that most of the parks are not adapted to their time, and decided that the new park should become a symbol of modernity and innovation. The park also had to investigate the relationship with the city, so it is no longer considered as an input or a ride to the city, but as a part of the core of the metropolitan area. There was a need for flexible and diverse park design.

To achieve all this, entrants to the 1982 competition had to consider two extremes: the city garden and the garden in the city. Another important aspect was that of pluralism and unity. The park should be a meeting point of cultures, achieved through social interaction; appreciation of daily life; and experimentation.

The proposal OMA submitted for Parc de La Villette was studied starting from the theories of Rem Koolhaas, in particular from the concepts explored in Delirious New York. In this book, Koolhaas is fascinated by the idea of congestion.

His idea of a skyscraper encompasses the culture of congestion. He argues that the American skyscraper works as a social condenser, a machine to generate desirable forms of human relationships. This idea is reflected in the Parc de La Villette,. Koolhaas here aims to create a social condenser organizing the layout of the park as a section of a skyscraper.

The park becomes 'a Captivate of 40 or 50 different activities, arranged like the floors, so we could create congestion and density typical of skyscrapers.'2

Congestion is important because Koolhaas describes the metropolitan lifestyle contemporary urban activities unstable, uncertain that overlaps and changes.

To provide the space a potential changing of the strategy of Koolhaas, will be the success of his future is "to bring the architectural specificity with programmatic indeterminacy", combining and overlapping layers of different composition, almost completely eliminating the three-dimensional look in favour of a program free and pure. A project as a strategy rather than design.

All images courtesy of OMA and Bernard Tschumi Architects.

1. Le Gouvernement a décidé de mettre un terme à l’ensemble des activités de La Villette à compter du 15 mars 1974. Ainsi pourra être engagée, dès 1974, sur les terrains devenus disponibles, une opération d’urbanisme de grande envergure. 2. Rem Koolhaas, Conversation with Students, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996

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