As part of a large urban renewal plan for the east of Paris, the city organized a competition in 1990 for the reuse of a series of wine warehouses. Set in parallel bands running perpendicularly towards the Seine, these late 19th century structures were in poor condition for the most part. As winners of the competition, Valode & Pistre proposed an innovative solution: “We wanted to create a continuity with the existing architecture, to make something contemporary with what existed,” says Denis Valode. “We reconstituted some of the warehouses, and behind them, we designed higher buildings. The basic pattern runs perpendicularly to the river, but there are also passageways parallel to the Seine. There is a difference of scale that decreases as one approaches through the parallel entries and finally reaches the central street. Our competitors proposed to cover this alley, but we left it open like a real old Parisian street with paving stones and the original rails that allowed large wine barrels to be moved.” A “folded” or zigzag zinc roof characterizes the new buildings and constitutes the symbol of the new shopping district. “We have made a consistent effort to make it apparent the difference between old and new in our restoration of the existing buildings. We referred to the old covered markets of Paris when we designed the folded roof pattern of the new buildings - in other words, even the contemporary parts of the project refer back to the old cast iron market structures,” says Valode.
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