Re: Re: Dublin skyline
A number of comments have referred to the low skyline of Paris. Eh – have we forgotten about La Defense, Paris’s high rise business district?
La Defense is a single district outside the city centre. There is a difference between building a bunch of high rise together in a planned layout and dotting them throughout the city. It looks fantastic like a Flash Gordon backdrop come to life. It’s good for the image of France. However it has proved to be a dysfunctional style of building. I’ve worked in La Defense and I soon missed my previous office with its tall oak doors, in a Haussmann building in the 9th. My colleagues agreed and we were paid a premium to city centre rates to work in what we called the ‘Frigo’.
How cool is that?
La Defense is utterly lifeless and tedious. Once you get over the initial awe of seeing these giant buildings laid out like like the playthings of the Gods, there is nothing left. Just huge voids between the buildings. Walking for 800m across bare paving stones to get from one office to another is lonely. Sitting 40 floors up separates you from society. There was no comparison with an office on a Parisian avenue, where I could see and hear the life on the street, pop down for breakfast in a boulangerie have lunch in a Park or get a beer after work in a Zinc.
While I don’t have figures to hand, I doubt that La defense had a higher floor area ratio than an inner city district. Huge open spaces are used to frame the buildings, negating the densifying effect of the height.
Eh, have we forgotten about the hundreds of tower blocks that make up Paris’s suburbs???
Nobody in their right mind would want to use the Paris Banlieue as a model for human habitation. Miles and miles of Shitsville. Try getting off the RER halfway from CDG to the city centre and taste the despair.
Reasons for high buildings:
Aesthetic: allow different forms of architectural-cultural expression (they don’t necessarily have to be ugly just because they are high)]The problem with allowing tall buildings on grounds of freedom of expression is that they have a fascist tendency to dwarf evrything else. Very few skyscrapers deviate from the formula of take one shiny glass floor and multiply by X. Hey Presto! A shadow-casting, environmentally damaging, anonymous glass box making a landmark for a shared office building with no significance.
Symbolic: huge prestige value and important for defining a city’s image and a nation’s image;
How are you defining a city’s image if the result is an image that’s the same as every other city – a cluster of shiny cuboids?
Economic: useful barometer of an economy’s success – also tend to attract high profile international companies and organizations that seek out prestige buildings;
Reminds me of the argument that we should promote car ownership because this is used to measure economic success. Average income or GDP/capita are more accurate measures of an economy. Plenty of countries have high-rise buildings with a view of the shanty towns.
Geographic: can provide a georgraphical and developmental focal point in a flat urban landscape.
This is a good point. Tall buildings should be used in this way – the modern equivalent of a church spire. I don’t think anyone should have to live or work in them.