Groundscapes is presented in six digital montage images produced by Parisian office Dominique Perrault Architects. Made with a publication of the same name in 2016, they suggest that the ground and the subterranean levels below parking infrastructures, mechanical spaces, and civic infrastructures have been previously overlooked by architects as an engineered landscape. Groundscapes presents fictions that reimagine—through subtle design insertions, incisions, and graftings—the relationship of the ground and below with existing iconic buildings. Using sites such as the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile and removing the ground beneath, in favor of a glass ceilings and new public amenities, overturns the stable relationship between monuments and their contexts. Alongside built monuments, the montages call on significant, unrealized schemes like Le Corbusier’s Plan Voisin grid of cruciform towers. Perrault’s montage suggests that by adjusting the vertical dimension of park and tower one changes the original scheme around city vistas and the dilemmas of developing upward. The montage technique, with blue monochromatic coloring of the context, recalls the types of inky finishes of the architectural blueprint; the new thickened ground that is produced out of the splicing of two images together recalls the types of popular explanatory diagrams that cut away building walls to reveal the goings-on beneath. In DPA’s fictions we see the potentials of a space that might exist beneath the stone foundations of the city.
The French architect and urban planner, Dominique Perrault, is a professor and director of the Underground Architecture Laboratory (SUB) at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Along with the Bibliothèque nationale de France, his main projects to date include the Olympic Velodrome and Swimming Pool in Berlin, the extension of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg, the Olympic Tennis Stadium in Madrid, the EWHA Woman’s University in Seoul and the Fukoku Tower in Osaka.
In recent years, Dominique Perrault inaugurated the tallest tower of Austria in Vienna, the DC Tower 1, and led various heritage rehabilitation projects, including the new public entry pavillion for the Château de Versailles. Current studies and urban research projects include the Olympic Village – Paris 2024 and the “Mission Ile de la Cité,” an urban study commissioned by the president of the French Republic that reflects upon the future of the thriving, historical center of Paris from now until 2040.
His dual approach as an architect and urbanist led to his appointment as Commissioner of the Architecture section of the French Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2010, on the theme “Metropolis”.
Dominique Perrault also founded DPAx, a research platform calling for a multidisciplinary dialogue to explore architecture from a wider perspective, and DPA Lab, conceived as a laboratory of research and innovation developing processes reinventing the vocabulary of architecture, including the use of metal mesh.
Groundscape, a concept studied across most of his built and unbuilt work, has recently been the subject of a new book entitled, “Groundscapes- Other Topographies”, a monograph focusing on the theory of underground architecture.
In 2016, Dominique Perrault was elected Member of the Institut de France, Académie des Beaux-Arts. As laureate of the 2015 Praemium Imperiale, the work of Dominique Perrault has been duly recognized on an international scale.