Paris, France: Passage into the NE corner of the gardens of the Palais Royal. This residential square, void of automobiles, is also void of urban noise and is one of the most peaceful spots in Paris. Designed by Victor Louis between 1781-84 as a speculative mixed use venture for the Duc D'Orleans, it originally contained sixty identical residential units above a continuous arcade and shops. The rectangular space measured approximately 306 by 760 ft (1:2.5). Perceivable height is approximately 52 ft. for a closure ratio of height to width of 1:6 and height to length of 1:14.6. These ratios are larger than recommended for an adequate sense of enclosure, but work because of the introduction of tight repeated rows of clipped trees and the power of the repeated architectural motif including superscaled columns which heighten the effect of grandeur. Jefferson was clearly influenced by this striking development when he served as Ambassador to France soon after the complex opened, and the concept of a covered and continuous pedestrian arcade is reminiscent of his treatment diagrammatically of the Lawn in the University of Virginia plan of 1819.
Credits: Russell Bloodworth