The architect Véronique Descharrières collaborates with the firm Bernard Tschumi Urbanistes Architectes. Together they worked on the Paris Zoological Park for which she received the Prix Femmes Architectes in the category ‘Original Work’ in 2015. This project has given them the opportunity to reflect on cohabitation and animal well-being in an urban space. The programme required the installation of five bio-zones, spaces in which each animal species is able to gather together. They worked within a symbiotic design in order to marry the architecture with the living spaces.

Technical sheet of this architecture video clip
Journalist : Emma C. Dessouroux
Cameramen : Didier Minne, Geoffroy Minne / Kinoflight

Editing : Emma C. Dessouroux / Cristina Dias
Direction : Emma C. Dessouroux
Production : Les Délires Productions

Translation : Strakermedia – Comtrans
Rereading : Serge Ryckoort / Emelire
Subtitles : Les Délires Productions

Speaker : Véronique Descharrières, Architect, Bernard Tschumi Urbanistes Architectes

English Subtitles

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I like diversity in architecture,

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but above all,
I like the powerful expression

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of urban density,

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the cultural expression that it can lend

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to different cities where one uses it.

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I don’t think you can define architecture,

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because actually, our profession leads us
down many paths,

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to many processes, meetings,
and different projects.

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What interests me in architecture

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is that diversity, that experimentation.

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Indeed, I have to say,

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I’ve been fortunate to work
at different levels,

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in different contexts,

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with different organisations,

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which is why I have my own set-up

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and I also work with the agency
Bernard Tschumi Urbanistes Architectes.

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We work on both
public and private projects,

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which really allow us

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to develop concepts and processes

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which are specific each time.

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There is no standardisation
in architecture.

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On the contrary,
it really allows us to see

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an intellectual process at play,

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according to the evolution

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of our societies, and it really emerges

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as a precise set of answers.

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Your visit won’t be the same
from one day to the next.

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I was awarded
the Prize of Women Architects

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for the original work
at the Paris Zoological Park in 2015.

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It’s a protected conservation site,

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listed as part of French heritage.

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Above all, this exceptional programme

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at the zoo, makes us think

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about the coexistence and well-being
of animals in the urban context.

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It consisted of installing five biozones,

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each corresponding to the habitats

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that each animal species
normally inhabits.

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A Sahel-Sudan plain,
for example, Madagascar,

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and also areas for Guyana, for Patagonia.

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So it was about melding together

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the animal’s typical environment,

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with all the public areas to be installed

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within these environmental surroundings.

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We installed over 30,000 square metres
of constructed spaces,

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all done in a symbiotic way,

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in other words, fusing together

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architecture with living spaces.

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Indeed, at the entrance,

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we see the idea of symbiotic coverings,

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like big metallic structures
with metal mesh,

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which can permanently contain
fauna and flora,

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creating a kind of giant arbour,

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covering 3,000 square metres
with a giant arbour where

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plants, birds, insects…

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can come and hide away
and be part of that shelter,

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which is also a welcome area for visitors,

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in which we find
all the standard practical features

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of a public park.

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I can’t see.

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If I could swim in the water…

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To have as much contact as possible
with the animal areas, their habitats,

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and to bring the visitors
as close as possible to the animals,

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we worked on what are called,
in zoological language, the enclosures.

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But on the contrary, what we worked on…

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installing, or really, staging

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large viewing bays.

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In fact, we installed big glass panels,

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about six metres wide
and three metres high,

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which allow visitors
to get as close as possible

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to the animals, like lions, and jaguars,

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obviously without being in danger

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on either side of the glass panels.

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Look up there, the meat!

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And Harry Potter
makes the glass disappear!

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Here you have the presentation,
the giraffe house in all its majesty.

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So, yes, the giraffe house is
kind of the central point

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within the Sahel-Sudan plain.

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You’re at the foot of a big rock,

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then out of nowhere,
there’s a big structure

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which is about 12 metres high,

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which is covered in murals
from Sahel-Sudan.

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We really tried to create
a kind of vast plain.

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We have about four hectares in this part,

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and the giraffes,
which is the biggest herd

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in Europe

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can be seen there, in all their majesty,

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with these huge spaces, which they share,

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because there is a biodiversity,
so a mix of animals.

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They share with kudus,
ostriches, which we can see,

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and all this leads them
to the watering holes,

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where they come to drink in the evenings
at the foot of the big rock.

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The zoo experience,

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which was really very intense,

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over seven years
of in-depth work and studies,

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and interactions
with scientists of all kinds,

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has really changed my view
of architecture somewhat,

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which up until that point,

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had been a view of seeking
to produce objects

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that may be a bit rigid or limited.

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But suddenly with the zoo,

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I kind of entered into a vision
of living architecture,

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how to build something alive,

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how to build sequences that will last,

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and will also be transformed

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and perhaps come alive in a different way

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according to the inhabitants or tenants,

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meaning the giraffes or the kudus,

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or even the lions or the jaguars,

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the tenants who will live in
and populate these spaces.

French Subtitles

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Dans l’architecture, j’aime la diversité,

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mais surtout, j’aime l’expression forte

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de la densité urbaine,

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de l’expression culturelle finalement,
qu’elle peut traduire

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dans les différentes villes
que l’on peut pratiquer.

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Je pense qu’on ne peut pas
décrire une architecture,

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parce qu’en fait
notre profession nous amène

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à toute une série de parcours,

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de démarches, de rencontres
et de projets différents.

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Et moi, ce qui m’intéresse
dans l’architecture,

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c’est justement la diversité,
l’expérimentation.

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Je dois dire qu’effectivement,

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j’ai eu la chance de pouvoir travailler
sur différentes échelles,

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dans différents contextes,

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avec différentes organisations,

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et c’est aussi pourquoi,
j’ai une structure propre

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et je travaille aussi avec l’agence
Bernard Tschumi Urbanistes et Architectes.

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On travaille sur des projets
soit publics, soit privés,

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mais vraiment qui peuvent nous permettre

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de développer
des concepts et des démarches

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tout à fait spécifiques à chaque fois.

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Il n’y a pas de standardisation
dans l’architecture.

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Je crois, qu’au contraire,
ça nous permet vraiment de voir

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une démarche intellectuelle qui se pose,

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et aussi en fonction de l’évolution

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de nos sociétés, qui se pose effectivement

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comme des réponses tout à fait précises.

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La visite que vous faites ne sera pas
la même du jour au lendemain.

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J’ai eu la chance de recevoir
le prix des Femmes Architectes

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pour l’œuvre originale
du parc zoologique de Paris en 2015.

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C’est un site préservé, protégé

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et inscrit au patrimoine
des sites français.

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Et surtout,
ce programme tout à fait exceptionnel

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de parc zoologique nous amène à réfléchir

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à la cohabitation et au bien-être
animalier dans un espace urbain.

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Il s’agissait de pouvoir installer
cinq biozones

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qui correspondent
aux espaces dans lesquels

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chaque espèce animalière
a l’habitude de se retrouver.

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Une plaine du Sahel Soudan,
par exemple, Madagascar,

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des espaces pour aussi la Guyane,
pour la Patagonie,

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Donc, il s’agissait d’associer

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un environnement type pour les animaux

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avec, aussi, tout le parcours public
qu’il s’agit d’installer

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et d’instiller à l’intérieur
de ces milieux environnementaux.

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On a installé plus de 30.000 m²
d’espaces construits,

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mais tout ça dans une conception
de symbiose,

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c’est-à-dire de marier

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l’architecture avec les espaces vivants.

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Donc, effectivement sur l’entrée,

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le principe des enveloppes symbiotiques,
c’est-à-dire

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des grandes structures métalliques
avec des mailles métalliques

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qui permettent d’accueillir de la faune
et de la flore à demeure,

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crée une treille gigantesque.

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Pratiquement, on couvre 3.000 m²
de treille gigantesque dans laquelle

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soit les plantations,
les oiseaux, les insectes…

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peuvent venir se fondre
et se mêler finalement à cet accueil,

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cet espace d’accueil pour les visiteurs

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dans lequel on retrouve
toutes les fonctionnalités habituelles

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d’un parc public.

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On voit pas.

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Ah, ben si je nageais dans l’eau !

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Pour être en contact maximum
avec l’espace de l’animal,

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son lieu d’habitat,

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et pour amener le visiteur
à être au plus proche de ces animaux,

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on a travaillé sur ce qu’on appelle
en langue zoologique des contentions,

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mais là, il s’agissait au
contraire de travailler sur…

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de mettre en place,
de mettre en scène finalement

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des grandes baies de vision.

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C’est-à-dire qu’on a des panneaux de verre

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d’environ six mètres de large
sur trois mètres de haut

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et qui permettent aux visiteurs
de s’approcher au plus près possible

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des espaces animaliers,
notamment des lions, des jaguars,

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sans être évidemment en danger

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ni d’un côté ni de l’autre
de la partie vitrée.

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Ah, t’as vu, là-haut, la viande !

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Harry Potter fait disparaître la vitre !

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Vous avez vraiment la présentation,
la maison des girafes en majesté.

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Alors, oui, la maison des girafes
est un peu, vraiment, un endroit central

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à l’intérieur de la plaine Sahel Soudan,

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d’ailleurs, on est au pied du grand rocher

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et là, tout d’un coup,
cette grande bâtisse

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qui fait à peu près 12 mètres de haut,

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qui est toujours enveloppée tout comme
l’ensemble des reliefs du Sahel Soudan,

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on a vraiment essayé de créer
une espèce de plaine assez vaste,

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on a à peu près quatre hectares
à cet endroit-là du parc

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et les girafes, qui est le plus grand
groupe européen de giraffidés

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sur un sol européen,

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se retrouvent là,
effectivement, en majesté,

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avec de grands espaces,
qu’ils partagent d’ailleurs

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parce qu’il s’agit aussi
d’une biodiversité,

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donc d’une mixité animalière,

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qu’ils partagent donc avec des coudous,
avec des autruches, on aura pu les voir,

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et puis tout ça les emmène
vers des plans d’eau

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qui permettent le soir de venir s’abreuver
au pied du grand rocher.

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L’expérience du parc zoologique

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qui a été vraiment
quelque chose d’intense,

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sur sept années de travail
en profondeur, d’études,

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comment dire, d’échanges
avec des scientifiques de tous horizons

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ont sans doute un peu changé
ma vision de l’architecture

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qui était jusqu’à ce stade-là

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une vision où on compterait
sur une production d’objets, je dirais,

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peut-être figés, peut-être finis,

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et là, avec ce parc, tout d’un coup,

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je pense que je suis rentrée
dans une vision d’une architecture vivante

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donc, comment construire ce vivant,

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comment construire des séquences
qui vont perdurer,

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qui vont aussi se transformer

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et qui vont vivre peut-être
de manière différente

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suivant les habitants et les locataires

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pour parler des girafes ou des coudous

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ou encore des lions et des jaguars,

112
00:06:35,720 –> 00:06:39,240
des locataires qui vont habiter
et peupler ces espaces.