Parc de la Villette

Paris, France

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

One of Paris's modern parks, built in 1987 on the site of a disused industrial site -- at 86 acres this is the largest green space in Paris.

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Why It Doesn't Work

Famous for its grid of red "follies," Parc de la Villette is a case study in how not to design a park. Human use seems to have been a very low priority for architect Bernard Tschumi, who envisioned this park as an exercise in deconstructionist technique. The result is a dull landscape that substitutes absurd sculpture and disproportionately scaled structures for playfulness and variety. Once the novelty of the structures wears off, there is little to sustain one's interest or imagination, although the dense programming offsets the inhumanity of the surroundings to a certain extent.

History & Background

Designed by Bernard Tschumi as a "21st century garden" the garden links the Cite des Sciences to the north and the Cite de la Musique and the Parisian National Conservatory of Music and Dance to the south. The park holds a number of cultural events, including cinema, theater, dance, music, puppetry, circus, cabaret and street theater. The garden consist of a series of theme gardens: mirrors, dunes, play, shadows, bamboo, mists, trellised vines, movements, balance, islands, childrens fears and dragons.

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