La Villette, in northern Paris, is one of the most important contemporary parks in the city. It was created between 1983-1987 in the former land of Parisian slaughterhouses. Now it is the biggest multicultural park, house of the Cité de la Science de l’Industrie, the new Philharmonic, the Cité de la Musique, and also, land for concerts, theater, and dance indoors or in open air. The large green esplanades offer spaces for relaxation, play, and discovery.
Among all these spaces there are the “Folies”. This name was formerly given to the extravagant pavilions that were built by the aristocracy in the outer parts of the cities. Bernard Tschumi, the architect who designed La Villette, selected this name (which also means madness) for the 26 structures that were disposed all along the park. These points of reference, these “Folies”, are all red, so if you like to photograph this color, this is you place in Paris.
Red is the color usually associate to passion, energy, insanity and excess. In photography, red becomes quickly the center point of visual attraction so it is commonly used for portraits and in photojournalism.
The “Folies” are born thanks to de deconstruction of a 10.80 meter long cube. Each one of them serve for a different purpose according to its location in the park. The are spread out in a 120 meter long net that covers the whole area. Most of them touch the grass explanades of grass, therefore it is a good time to explore complementary color theory in urban landscape photography or details.
Other “Folies” are integrated to the “Galerie de la Villette” (a wave like Nort-South sunshield) or to the “Galerie de l’Ourcq” (a lineal footbridge that crosses the parc East-West). Here the contrast between the red constructions, the sky and the neutral colors of concrete and metal will be surely of interest for photographing. A similar effect can be obtained when photographing information signs or urban furniture.
When photographing in La Villette, hardly can we avoid having one of these constructions to become the center of attention. In urban landscape photography or for street photography, these chromatic points will always be determinant, so better to work with them. Also, why not trying to take advantage of the strength of this color for high contrast backgrounds for objects or portraits.
Finally, not only the “Folies” can make your photo vibrate. La Villette is one of the open air spaces that encourages temporary exhibits and demonstrations (photography, concerts, festivals, etc). Surely there will be more than one occasion to make red the principal subject of your composition.
Parc de La Villette
M: L5 Porte de Pantin
M: L7 Porte de la Villette
Tram: 3b Porte de Pantin, Ella Fitzgerald-Grands Moulins de Pantin, Porte de la Villette.