Paris 6e
    Restructuring and renovation of the building on a classified site
    15 600 sqm
    €12,3M excl. VAT

Completed in 1817 by Jean-Baptiste Blondel and Adrien-Louis Lusson, Saint-Germain market was considered the most attractive in Paris. Initially, the building had a beautiful central courtyard. A roof was added in 1860. New additions were made, gradually changing its identity entirely. Between 1989 and 1995, under the direction of Olivier- Clément Cacoub, the market was demolished and rebuilt, following Blondel’s plan to the letter, except for the courtyard…The current building is thus a copy of the old one.

Around twenty years later, our experience of designing the project is a strange one; in line with the wishes of our interlocutors from the departments of the City of Paris and the Commission of Old Paris, we approached the project as if we were dealing with an old, almost historical building. Everyone expected that we would be extremely careful in this regard. The copy has become authentic, even though the shortcomings inherent in the reconstruction process have not been ironed out completely. In reality, these shortcomings are now thought of as “the 1995 project”, which continues to elicit opprobrium, as if it were no more than an unfortunate addition to a superb historical market…

This situation invites us to reflect on the nature of monuments, which Françoise Choay analyzes in her book Pour une anthropologie de l’espace.1 She discusses the Japanese notion of “the monument”, perpetually reconstructed from its own foundations, but always inhabited by the memory of what it is, a sign designed to make us remember. In this role, played by certain buildings, amongst them, evidently, Saint-Germain market, the true and the false are diluted, for they no longer have any part to play in what is really at stake, namely a discourse concerning our buried identity, which never disappears.