Montreuil zone industrielle Nord.
The Montreuil Industrial Zone.
A vision, utopian but sad, haunts this roof upon which we walk. We pass a garden of satellites, amongst which cicadas buzz, veiled in the grass. And turning to the west, we find ourselves confronted by a tableau completely unexpected upon the roof of this concrete monolith, this monument to so-called inhuman architecture: an orchard of symmetrical trees framing the immense urban expanse of the horizon. Who envisaged such a building with its wooded roof? To whom do we owe this feeling of faded utopias? These perspectives, this vision, Claude Le Goas conceived them, a certain Mme. Delhommeau tells us. He wanted to “construct the city upon the city”.
In 1963, under the communist administration of André Grégoire of the PCF, the decision was taken to build MOZINOR. And, in 1975, the work finished, it became the first “vertical industrial zone” in France. On the roof was to be found the orchard, with its fountain and its beautiful view, in addition to a cafetaria, so that the factory workers may go and dine together in a pastoral setting, or even go and eat a picnic under their trees with their family during the lunch hour.
All the same, MOZINOR is one of the only buildings in the world that permits articulated lorries (heavy-load trucks) to access every level of the building, which is made possible by a dual-spiral central ramp which leads all the way to the roof. The global vision consists in a holism which envisages the reunion of ostensibly separate domains, namely: the pastoral and the urban, work and rest, the industry of Montreuil and the agriculture of the surrounds.
The warehouses and factories below propped up the restful scenes above, the building could accommodate a large quantity of industrial production and storage, without taking up much space, without creating an alienating environment, and everything at the building scale, at the scale of the city block. In this manner, the idea of MOZINOR recalls the primordial dreams of the skyscraper, which Rem Koolhaus explained in Delirious New York as “the utopian device for the production of an unlimited number of virgin sites upon a single metropolitan location”.
Now, MOZINOR is a strange mix of activity and inactivity. In such, it resembles the rest of les Hauts de Montreuil. The warehouses now accommodate artist studios, there are still trucks on the ramp, but there is no body upon the roof and the fountain has dried up. It would appear that in the 1990′s MOZINOR was one of the best-known techno-rave spots in the Paris region, but that after several murders in which people were thrown from the roof, it found itself increasingly securitised, enclosed by an immense fence, with rigid opening hours, 10AM-8PM. It remains to be seen whether the the original holistic spirit of MOZINOR can be better effectuated on the neighbourhood scale, through the Hauts de Montreuil project…
[translated from urbanist project written in French]