Reclaiming Urban Spaces: Modular Micro-City On Parisian Bridge

September 2, 2015 by

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Parisian Architect Stéphane Malka addresses the economic inequities inherent in urbanization in a concept that reimagines how people might live in today’s mobile world–in this case, hanging off the side of the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris.

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Malka thinks people should reclaim their cities. He addresses the issue in his concept for the P9 Mobile-Ghetto, a modular and mobile “parasitic” micro-city built on one of Paris’s most celebrated bridges over the river Seine.

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Half the world’s population today–3.3 billion people–live in cities and that total is expected to reach nearly 5 billion by 2030. Along with global urbanization comes increased demand and rising real estate prices, driving out many residents out of their neighborhoods, and sometimes out of their cities.

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The hipsterfication of once undesirable and desolate neighborhoods like–Williamsburg, Brooklyn–has gentrified them into areas which have become unaffordable to those who originally transformed them. Foreign investors paying cash above asking prices snatch away many of the city’s properties, making them untenable for those who, unlike many of these foreigners, really want to live there.

This urban displacement does not only represent in inherent inequality in the access to urban housing, it drives out many of the city’s creative population, artists and creative thinkers who can no longer afford to live and create in cities like New York or San Francisco.

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Malka describes P9 as a “voluntary ghetto,” a series of mixed-use residential and public spaces built on scaffolding attached to the bridge. His vision for this “para-city” might incorporate art galleries, recording studios, shops, playgrounds, sports facilities, bars and nightclubs.

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The architect, like many, is rethinking the concept of living and working in the mobile age. Telecommuters and virtual workers use cafés and public spaces as offices and tap into new shared economy’s peer-to-peer offerings for everyday living–city bike programs, co-working spaces and even sharing apps like Leftoverswap, which lets people offer others their leftover food for free.

“In a time when we are getting more and more mobile, not only regarding our phone and laptop devices,” Malka told Wired Magazine, “but also… the increasing number of freelancers or homeworkers, mobile cities would totally change the uses and the morphology of the city.”

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Malka foresees a culture and environment that supports the new ways of living and working. P9 represents the shift in the way urban structures might be rapidly constructed and deconstructed to adapt to the constantly changing needs of the particular city’s population.

Technology has spawned a “crowdshaping” culture where, via their data, consumers’ collective preferences and demands influence the emergence of new products and services, and maybe even where they live, work, and play. People no longer want the old “built to last” of the past–they want the newest thing and for that they’ll even camp out in line overnight for it.

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“If there is a utopia in this project,” Malka told Wired, “it’s more in its social dimension than its architectural aspect.”

Photos via the architect.

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