architecture, when we want to separate the outside from the inside we build
walls and above them a roof and by this we draw a line between two spaces, one
remaining open while the other is enclosed. It is the same when we represent
the independence of air and earth. By drawing this ground line that separates
above from below, we inadvertently use a model for representing reality, which,
in fine print, expresses the only thing that does not exist. And yet this model
is efficient as it corresponds to the limits of our vision. However, below this
simple ground line hides a universe of possibilities, of unexplored places
–existing or awaiting creation.
surface of the planet has been entirely brought to our knowledge, what we are
dealing with here is the very last frontier yet to conquer for our cities, be
them historic or metropolitan. The perception of the underground of cities may
well raise concerns at first, as we imagine it dark, damp and uncomfortable.
But if we go beyond this prejudice, we will find a much more physical and
sensitive image of the groundscape. In fact it offers a potent catalyst for
urban networks, a naturally ideal thermal inertia, an unrivalled respect for
the landscape, an elegant enhancement of our architectural heritage, and a
unique palette of lights.
this frontier is economically at reach, as above all it holds a vast reserve of
real estate. For developers, the groundscape opens the possibility of expanding
a building with respect for the context. For authorities, it is a major source
of revenue as it opens up new sites in central locations.
groundscape is not necessarily deep. Its depth is a measurement but not a definition.
It is not
about living underground, but about properly inscribing our living places
within the earth, within this epidermis of the ground, the superficial layer,
while remaining open to the sky.
exhibition is articulated around five different themes that show how DPA’s
architectural research on the «groundscape» has been declined over the last 30
years. Each theme was then developed following always the same structure
composed by three autonomous parts: Chronicles / Fictions / Atlas.
The first room of the exhibition
introduces the general topic of “groundscape”.
1. Artificial soil
This room shows DPA’s works where
the architectural project coincides with the construction of a new urban or
This room presents a series of «high
depth» architectural and infrastructural projects.
3. Glass Soil
This room presents a series of
radical renovations projects, where new functional programs were placed below
existing buildings and covered under glass canopies.
This room presents projects which
deal with landscape and natural topography.
In this room the visitor can
discover all those DPA projects where architecture was used as a device to
bring natural light into underground spaces.
In this room we set-up a video
projector presenting a 7 minutes 3D animations describing abstract and more
realistic «groundscape» projects.
Three layers: Chronicles, Fictions, Atlas
Literally an “imaginary
construction”, the word “fiction” assumes here the purposes of argument or
explanation, willingly falling in line with a long heritage of “à la française”
architectural utopias. Pleasantly witted, their sole ambition is to open minds
to a new approach of the metropolis and its heritage by redeveloping its roots.
It is therefore through a strategy mimicking that of botanical cuttings that
the fictions revisit the monuments and architectural icons of the Greater Paris
area, suggesting new ways to better acclimatize them to a metropolitan ground
that is both fertile and in perpetual motion.
The “Atlas” is a work of research
and identification that DPA has developed around the concept of “Groundscape”. This
system of both formal and conceptual references allows an integration of DPA’s
underground experimentations within an intellectual framework that transcends
the field of architecture. The Atlas therefore is more than just a collection
of documents; it is a fundamental tool within the research process through
which we claim both the autonomy of architecture as discipline and the need for
a cross-disciplinary dialogue at the same time.
1985 project of the University of Law and Letters of Angers, Dominique Perrault
has designed more than 55 groundscape projects over a period of almost thirty
years. The exhibition is organized around a selection of the practice’s
projects, presented as working documents showing the continued research on the
underground. These snapshots of the life of the office freeze three stages of
the project: the conception through the sketches, models, and perspectives; the
implementation alongside images of the construction sites; and finally the realized
design through the eyes of the camera.