Paris, A City In Divergence


The initial research and subsequent project intends to explore how architecture based on its historical, typological and social context can serve as a link and representation for a new urban community in exciting areas characterized by divergence; both architecturally, economically and socially.

Paris is defined by a sharp border between the historical city center and the surrounding periphery. In the tension field between the different urban scenarios there has emerged a need for a new urban scene, a place where you in a pluralistic context can contribute to a holistic understanding of the city and its periphery. The purpose is to recollect and regain the peripheral areas of the city, which are currently undefined in the urban landscape of the city. The reinterpretation is necessary in order to link the areas to the centralized urban structure and to restore the collective value of the areas.

The architectural perception of the city presented in this project is based on the idea of a city consisting of clearly defined areas – the archipelago. In the area’s separation from the context, confrontation and thereby strengthened identity are created for the idea of a “city” in the city – an identity that manifests itself in terms of its dialogue with the city both architecturally and socially. The project is an attempt to create a dialectical architecture that originates in a community -the city – but at the same time emphasizes the individuality and the tension between the city’s differences. The construction of a new “city” in the existing city, in the tension field between the center and the periphery, is an attempt to redefine the architecture of the city through a reinvestment in architectural form – a rediscovery and new interpretation of the city’s defined features, through articulated delimitations and definitive architectural forms.

The methodological approach and primary framework for the project is first and foremost to re-interpret the city’s typological identity and create a link between the center and the periphery. The project does not propose a unique solution, but rather a prototypical method that allows you to work with areas that are situated in these tension fields. The project has the potential to be implemented elsewhere in the city; however, the methodological approach of the project is each time dependent on a reconsideration of the context and a design based on its concrete urban typologies and artifacts. The project will act as a catalyst for the architectural development of the urban city, as a new block, a hybrid, capable of being implemented in several places around the city’s periphery.

The project is to be understood as a transformation of the site, based on a systematic morphological reading of the city and its context. The city’s morphology is investigated and re-interpreted in a categorization of existing typologies in the cityscape. Based on this categorization, new selected archetypes are assigned to the selected site in investigative compositions. In conjunction with an analysis of Paris’s urban structure, insight is gained on how a new composition of clearly defined, diverse architectural interventions can provide the foundation for a new urban arena.

The approach to the context should not be understood as a direct reflection but as an attempt to establish an idiom of abstract and definitive architectural forms. The selection of architectural form, derived from the existing urban structure, can not be found in the city’s iconic elements, but in the abstract elements found in the sequence of open and closed spaces, the rhythm of walls, columns and the continuous flow of facades with their repeated patterns of openings and ornaments.

The city’s characteristics thus become the foundation for the morphological transformation of the chosen site in the creation of a new arena – an arena that, despite its autonomous expression, will preserve the essence of the city and act as a link between the different parts of the city.

The project will have autonomous and agonistic expression. It is reflected in the city’s existing morphology, but at the same time it differs from the generic urban structure. The ambition is to emphasize the divergence existing in Paris, to create dialogue between the cities in the city, creating a dialectical interaction that will reinforce the areas and the city’s identity while simultaneously diminishing current borders.

With an understanding of the centralized structure in Paris, in light of the city’s expansion, it is clear that there is a need to redefine the structure of the city in relation to its future development. Instead of reinforcing the boundary between the center and the periphery, the project (with the possibility of several) will connect the two city scenarios together in the form of a new polycentric urban structure. The project, as shown on the selected site, will act as a link that does not interfere with this boundary, but instead clarifies it and creates a connection between the center and the periphery.

The project therefore accepts the city’s existing state, but wishes to re-examine the perception of a city split in two. By creating “cities” that can be implemented in the city’s urban structure, a link between the two scenarios will be created. The project will act as a catalyst for the city’s future development and should be understood as an articulated dialogue in this set-up. The city will thus become a platform for dialogue-based planning, which aims to create architectural and social identity in today’s undefined periphery.


Who influences you graphically?

We wanted to create images with an atmosphere that somehow illustrated the need of human interaction for the architecture to manifest itself. We find that photorealistic renders often doesn’t give the viewer the possibility of imagination. By creating flat but still sensitive images we propose a project that lies in between the spectra of idea, imagination and a possible future reality.

To mention some offices that we found graphically inspiring – OMMX, OFFICE, Dogma, Fala Atelier, Something Fantastic.

What defined the language of representation the project?

Our visual project is to be understood as an conceptual framework – an idea of a new collective block in Paris. The idiom of the project is based on a re-interpretation of the existing typologies in the city. By juxtaposing different architectural typologies a new architectural language appeared; a language which addresses the people and their collective memory and understanding of the city.

We found it important to visualise this coherent collective interpretation. Our aesthetic language is therefore determined by a simple and limited use of materials and color for the background render which makes the materialized usage of space both individually and collectively more visible.

What is your take on the axonometric projection?

The axonometric projection is a representation that allows you to give the viewer an spatial overview of the project. Since our project has a relatively large footprint in the context, the axonometric projection can be helpful in the understanding of scale and relation to the surrounding space.

The idea of the project originated from the idea of a new collective society within the city. We found that the perception of a society was more pronounced in the axonometric projection as opposed to plan and section. One understands how life in the block will unfold in relation to movement, venues, activities etc.

Recently there has been a proliferation of figures borrowed from paintings as this of Hockney, Magritte, Hopper etc. What is your take on this? What role do these silhouettes play within the representation of your project?

The use of figures borrowed from painters like Hockney, Magritte, Hopper etc. helps to give visualisations a sensitive atmosphere. Since we wanted the project to visualise an idea and a concept rather than a finalised building the use of painted figures was a graphical decision taken early in the project. The figures give the visualisation an expression of collage. The collage is a tool used by many architects to express an idea rather than to dictate a final truth. One get a sense of timelessness and nostalgia which gives both the project and the viewer a free space for their own development and interpretation.

What defined the specific views through which you choose to reveal your proposal? How do these reveal the project in a specific way?

The project has both an architectural and an urban intent. It was therefore important to work with visualisations on several scales to show the different aspects of the project. Some intend to show the project in relation to the city other to show the possibilities and life in the new block.


Pelle Juul Carlsen holds a bachelor degree (Aarhus School of Architecture, 2016) and is currently living and studying in Aarhus, Denmark. He has just returned after having spent a year in Paris, where he interned at Lacaton & Vassal.

Emilie Zinck Munksgaard too is living and studying in Aarhus. Since her bachelor degree (Aarhus School of Architecture, 2015) she has interned at Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter, Copenhagen, and afterwards spent a year in Paris, where she interned at Dominique Perrault.

Together they received a grant that made it possible for them to stay in Paris and work on this project after having finished each of their individual internships.

Both are currently at their 1rd year of masters at Aarhus School of Architecture, working under the teaching programme: Transformation.