Architecture and Biopolitics at Les Halles

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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Until 1969, when Paris's wholesale food markets were moved to the Parisiansuburb of Rungis, Les Halles, the market district in the center of Paris, fedmuch of the city's urban population. Les Halles was not simply a place wherefood was bought and sold, but also a highly visible and symbolically chargednode of communication between the countryside, the state, and the bodies ofParisian citizens. Due to its centrality and visibility, Les Halles came underenormous pressure to physically symbolize the state's relationship to the “market.”In turn, the architecture of the markets at Les Halles came to stand in forthe powers of the state to organize a flow of goods from farm to body. Fromthe 1763 construction of the Halle au blé, to the 1851 ground-breaking on VictorBaltard's iron and glass market pavilions, to the construction of the CentrePompidou and the Forum des Halles in the 1970s and 1980s, the markets atLes Halles were regularly redesigned and rebuilt to accommodate and/or produceshifting notions of architectural, social, and financial order.

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