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18 Nov 2019
Cultural buildings must create social links, says Elizabeth de Portzamparc
By Stu Robarts
Cultural buildings must create social links, says Elizabeth de Portzamparc
De Portzamparc suggests that one of the largest problems that humanity faces is loneliness caused by individualism
Photo: Steve Murez
Elizabeth de Portzamparc has argued that cultural buildings like libraries and museums shouldn't just preserve knowledge and heritage, but should forge social links too by ensuring their accessibility and approachability.

De Portzamparc was speaking in the most recent issue of CLADmag following the opening of the Musée de la Romanité earlier this year, which she described as "the most symbolic public facility I’ve ever worked on."

Explaining why, she said: “It is a citizen of the city it lives in, and a perfect symbol of my style of urban architecture.”

De Portzamparc was referring to the importance for public and cultural spaces to integrate with society, rather than feel unapproachable for some demographics or, at worst, feel completely cut off to them.

"I think that one of the largest problems that humanity faces is loneliness caused by individualism," she said. "I try to counter this by creating spaces where it is easy and comfortable for people to gather.”

De Portzamparc describes museums and libraries in particular as “guardians of culture” and their mission to preserve heritage as “an immutable foundation” of her work. But she also feels that they mustn't be exclusionary.

“I want to evolve the function of cultural facilities to create social links. These buildings shouldn’t be closed off and restricted to knowledge keepers jealously guarding their contents – which is the desire of many of these institutions. Instead, they should welcome the public and quench people’s thirst for knowledge.

She continued: “Collections must be desacralized and opened up to trigger a greater diversity of interactions between us. We need really open cultural buildings – accessible and technologically equipped – so that as many people as possible can be educated and motivated to challenge the prevailing presentism we are experiencing as a civilization.”

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