Rebounding Architecture Revives Paris
"The Cité is Macfarlane's most important commission to date. But it's more than that. It heralds not only the arrival of a new generation of radical French architects, but also, as Macfarlane suggests, a return to form for a city which, architecturally at least, has long been in the doldrums. Paris's fortune seems inextricably linked to its counterpart across the Channel. Back in the 1980s - when Britain's architectural scene was drearily stuck in its Modernist v the Prince of Wales zero-sum game - all eyes were on Paris, where President Mitterand indulged his "droit du prince" by building grand project after grand project."
"When London's fortunes returned in the 1990s, Paris became stuck in a torpor, while London built Tate Modern, the Eye, the new Great Court at the British Museum. 'When Paris lost to London in its 2012 Olympic bid,' Macfarlane says, 'and rioters took to the streets in the banlieus - that was the low point.' "
"But it's France's old tradition - the droit du prince - that is saving the country again. Last year President Sarkozy invited the world's foremost architects - Foster, Richard Rogers and Hadid among them - to the opening of the biggest architectural museum in the world, the Cité de l'Architecture at the Palais de Chaillot, and called on them to "give back the possibility of boldness to architecture". And Paris, once again, will be the focus. Its Mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, though politically opposed to Sarkozy, shares - some say even inspired - his architectural patronage. Since 2003 he's been attempting to right Paris's urban wrongs - particularly the city's exclusivity."
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