chapter  18
7 Pages

Reading Parc de la Villette

The winner of the twentieth century’s most important park design competition was announced in March 1983. Landscape architects were stunned. Not only was it as if a major architec­ tural competition had been won by a landscape designer, but Bernard Tschumi’s winning scheme was not, in their eyes, a spatial design. The Crystal Palace struck architects in a similar way. It was designed by a gardener, Joseph Paxton, and many architects did not regard the scheme as architecture. ‘If this is a landscape design’, one could hear the landscape designers thinking, ‘then pink atoms will learn to yodel’. Now that Parc de la Villette is substantially complete, one can see that it was a landscape design, and that alternat­ ive readings of the scheme are possible. Several will be sketched in this essay. Whether or not they appertain to the designer’s intentions is, of course, strictly irrelevant in deconstructionist theory. As Derrida put it, II n’y a pas de hors-texte [There is nothing outside the text]. The readings have subtitles. The order is random.