The battle for the visual heart and soul of cities is often characterized as being between two monoliths: the traditional beauty of old world-style architecture and the cost-saving glassy and metallic look of the modern. Either way, actual citizens of the city don't get much of a voice in the matter.
Périphériques Architectes, in response to a design competition called Reinventer Paris for affordable housing in a plot in Paris's Rive Gauche urban development zone, thought differently. They proposed a "crowd built" agglomerated structure called Paris Par Nous Paris Pour Nous ("Paris By Us, Paris For Us"). It weaves together many different styles and tastes to house a pluralistic community.
The building's styles include Haussman-style 19th-century architecture, suburban structures, the postmodern, and even some Moorish-inspired windows — all wrapped in a postmodern, pluralistic fantasia of a building that looks like something out of the film Howl's Moving Castle.
As part of the Paris By Us, Paris For Us initiative, local residents would be able to pool their funds to have affordable housing built for themselves — in effect, crowdfunding the project. Different crowdfunded levels will offer rewards like an inscription on one or more bricks of the facade; interested parties can also buy shares of the Civil Society of Real estate investment (SCPI) to invest in apartments which will then be leased.
A promotional video exclaims that tenants and owners will "partagent le meme palier" ("share on the same level"), but it is difficult to foresee such conditions in such broad terms. The architects were particularly focused on making the apartments inside diverse and appealing to a variety of different demographics and price points, ranging from € 12.10 / m² to 29 € / m².
Though the laureates of the initiative, which was headed by Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, ended up being 23 tame and tasteful projects like the Morland by David Chipperfield Architects, Paris By Us, Paris For Us only sees this as a beginning. Perhaps the judges were startled by the idea, but Périphériques is eager to prove that the world is ready for it.