Zero-degree Architecture for the Zero-year Generation

architects Anne Lacaton, Jean Philippe Vassal
project Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France
written by Nada Beroš


When, in February 2000, Jérôme Sans, one of the two directors of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, took me for a stroll through the future “site for contemporary arts”, whose completion was eagerly planned for September the same year, my first impression was that it looked like a huge construction site. I mentioned this to my amiable host and added that there was so much more to do. “Au contraire!” replied Sans “This is the final stage. What you see now won’t change much by the time of the opening!” While Jérôme Sans may have been wrong about the time of the opening (Palais de Tokyo – Site de création contemporaine officially opened on 28 January 2002), he was certainly right about one thing; this site, now crowded with visitors, is still a “huge construction site”. To be more precise, it is a huge public space in perpetual motion; something Paris had been waiting for for two decades, the turning point in the revival of the French capital as the living centre of contemporary arts.