Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Corner Pocket

The top-floor, corner window is what I look out of when I'm in my bathroom, mostly when I'm hanging laundry or spying. If there was a second floor balcony, this would be a thoroughly typical Haussmann style building. Maybe because it sits along Rue D'Avron, a significant eastern entry and exit of the city, they held off on the low-floor balcony. As ridiculous as it feels to write the following phrase, here are a couple quotes about the Haussmann style from Wikipedia,

"Neighbouring buildings had to have their floors at the same height, and the façades' main lines had to be the same. The use of quarry stone was mandatory along these avenues. Paris started to acquire the features of an immense palace."

Also from Wikipedia, these are the basic guidelines for the Haussmann facade, floor by floor,

"-ground floor and basement with thick, usually street-lateral, load-bearing walls;
-second, "noble" floor with one or two balconies;
-third and fourth floors in the same style but with less elaborate stonework around the windows;
-fifth floor with a single, continuous, undecorated balcony
-eaves angled at 45º."

There is a lot to criticize about the Haussmann renovations (disrupting the social order, bowing to the wealthy landowners, etc.), but he and Napoleon III (an elected emperor) managed to disinfect, beautify, and rebuild an entire capital city! I try to imagine the mindset with which one sets out on such a project, and it seems like a combination of insanity, megalomania, social responsibility, trepidation, and fearlessness (both of pissing people off, and of biting off more than you can chew).

(Photo by Molly Tuttle.)

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