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Vatican City in Paris

Redesign of Montparnasse Station

Sophia Al-Maria has been finding ways to describe twenty-first-century life in the Gulf Arab nations through art, writing, and filmmaking. In Al-Maria’s view, the mall in both the Gulf and the United States—along with its attendant consumerism—occupies "a weirdly neutral shared zone between cultures that are otherwise engaged in a sort of war of information and image," waged through both traditional and social media.

The spread of commodity-images by the mass media produces "waves of enthusiasm for a given product" resulting in "moments of fervent exaltation similar to the ecstasies of the convulsions and miracles of the old religious fetishism".The remains of religion and the family (the principal relic of the heritage of class power) and the moral repression they assure, merge whenever the enjoyment of this world is affirmed–this world being nothing other than repressive pseudo-enjoyment.
We designed a huge underground shopping mall at the city center of Paris and rebuilt the area above the ground as a park with commercial architectures full of religious atmosphere to reflect people’s obsession with consumerism. At the same time, the spaces show the people’s desire for expression behind consumerism and create democratic space for different classes of people. On the one hand, the concept is ironic and provocative, but on the other hand, it also proposed a better public space for Paris’ citizens.

Like the Vatican in Rome, we hope this design will be the Vatican City in the city of Paris - a religious shrine symbolizing fanatic contemporary trends in consumerism.
2015, Paris, FranceCooperate with : Zhaoxuan Yang

Chapel: Shopping Mall

The situation in Piazza del Popolo and Montparnasse is very similar, and we compared the Montparnasse tower to the obelisk on Piazza del Popolo. On the open front of the site, we designed the entrance through two modest yet recognizable dimensions, just like the main roads in the cities marked by the two chapels at Piazza del Popolo.

Colonnade: Flagship Shops

The construction of the Vatican colonnade lasted for hundreds of years, with sculptures of religious idols at the top of each pillar reminding us of modern commerce. We move the colonnade to a pedestrian street, a majestic pillar and the icon above symbolizing the brand that stands out in the wave of industrialization and information.

Monastery: Fashion School

As an ideal capital of consumption and fashion, Montparnasse needs a trend-setting design school, just as the Christian holy sites must have monasteries. A monastic form of school can interact abundantly with other functions of the entire parcel while maintaining an independent environment that provides a good environment for students and visiting designers.

Cathedral: Convention and Exhibition Center

Cathedral as the most typical religious space, we will be the monumental church as a convention center. The large-scale space offers the possibility of gathering crowds and different spatial arrangements. Like St Peter's Basilica, it can accommodate both the crowd and the visitors.