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Rue Eugene Sue and rue Simart

At the intersection of rue Eugene Sue and rue Simart in Paris is a collection of mid-rise buildings that were constructed during Haussmann’s renovation of Paris in the second half of the 19th century. They were intended to house some 10,000 workers.

Here’s an aerial image of that intersection from Google Maps:

Some people, namely the folks over at The Funambulist, have compared this area to the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong as a result of its extreme population density. But unlike the Walled City, this area of Paris still exists today.

The way these blocks are able to achieve such a high population density is by employing compact internal courtyards. In some cases they would be more accurately referred to as light wells.

Here’s a fascinating diagram from The Funambulist showing the approximate areas of each courtyard/light well:

I have become very interested in these sorts of European courtyard buildings. They do have their benefits. For one, they offer respite from the rest of the city. But you can also understand why the modernists were so fixated on access to light and air.

1 Comment so far

  1. Scott Baker

    I’m becoming more and more interested in the idea of Virtual Windows, sometimes featured in futuristic science fiction movies, dystopian or not. These are basically high-res window-sized screens, mounted on a wall where a window might be, except of course, this means the room or apartment could be anywhere, including in a deep interior of a large building, or a (post-apocalyptic?) deep cave. They could have feeds from high-res color security feeds, or really, anywhere in the world, including much nicer places than the building is actually in – sunny beaches, Hawaii, etc.
    The better department stores, like Bloomingdale’s used to do something like this with their painted still life “window” scenes in model rooms, but a feed would be live, or not, of course. You could run a taped scene from daytime at night if you worked a night shift, for example, which could help fight the depression that comes from such shifts, or a summer scene in far north countries that have have winter 6 months a year.
    Sound would be optional too.
    What about air? Well, high skyscrapers have windows that essentially never open, and even low buildings have access to polluted air. We need filtration HVAC anyway, so that’s a better solution.


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