12 February, 2010
I had been offered a six-month internship at OMA Rotterdam starting in September and I had sent out more applications to find something to do this summer. I sent paper resumes and work samples in actual brown envelopes. I mailed eight of these out to London, Paris, Milan, New York and Boston.
I got an email from the Studio Associato Bernardo Secchi Paola Viganò today. They found my CV "extremely interesting" and may consider offering me a position as a summer intern.
When I visited the Grand Pari[s] exhibition at the Cité Chaillot several months ago, I found their work extremely interesting. I had been obsessing for months about housing and urbanism in the greater Paris region. My senior thesis at Princeton is about the social housing projects in the Paris banlieues. Out of the 10 projects, Secchi-Viganò's proposal stood out to me as the most compelling. While projects by architects like Jean Nouvel and Antoine Grumbach employed grand gestures supported by flashy images depicting "green" utopias, Secchi-Viganò's project was grounded in social research. A presentation table was devoted to interviews of people from the Paris banlieues. What the French architects failed to see and what the Secchi-Viganò project grasped so clearly was Paris's acute social problem.
The 2005 riots and films such as Kassovitz's La Haine illustrate Secchi-Viganò's assertion that the Paris region is currently "impermeable". Their proposal calls for a "porous, accessible, isotropic" city where the French idea of égalité is applied to improve the quality of existing spaces. By using the same spaces in a better way, they propose better mobility and connectivity.