Enclosed Space in the Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen
Enclosed Space in the Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen belongs to its so-called Thematic Gardens, forming individual sections that are functionally and organically integrated into its continuum.

However, from another point of view, these two gardens are individualistics. Their unique characteristics are reflected both in their spatial position in relation to the main body of the Park, but also in their symbolic dimension.

This article, which is the third in a series dedicated to the Parc Andre Citroen, will attempt to highlight all those elements that may justify the designation of the White and Black Gardens as individualistics.

If this is finally achieved, the ‘Kalliergeia‘ editorial team will pop the champagne corks.

Trees in line and large open spaces are key features of the White Garden

View of the White Garden from Rue Balard Street
View of the White Garden from Rue Balard Street

The Park and Gardens

Parc Andre Citroen Site Plan Including Black & White Gardens
Parc Andre Citroen Site Plan Including Black & White Gardens

The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

André Citroen Parc Thematic Gardens

The André Citroen Parc Thematic Gardens constitute a conceptual rather than a single spatial entity. They are located in individual areas and include:

  • On the east side the White and Black Garden
  • On the north side the Serial Gardens and the Garden in Motion
  • To the south and west the Changing Garden and the Rock Garden

With the exception of the White Garden, which is outside the main area of the Park, everyone else is a part of it.

The Changing Garden is adjacent to the Rock Garden, the Serial Gardens to the Garden in Motion, while the Black Garden stands alone, near the European Hospital ‘George Pompidou’ (Hôpital Européen Georges-Pompidou).

The combination of the location and the name of the Black Garden may give whomsoever various curious purely metaphysical food for thought about the quality of the medical services provided in that hospital.

However, exploring this dimension of Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen goes beyond the purposes of this article.

The Entrance to the Parc Andre Citroen from Rue Balard Street
The Entrance to the Parc Andre Citroen from Rue Balard Street

The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The Mickey Mouse Ears

Yet a look at Parc Andre Citroen site plan, it is almost certain that will just leave the sence to whomsoever, that he/she recognizes ‘les oreilles de Mickey’ – the ‘Mickey Mouse’s ears’.

The designation belongs to Christophe Bayle, author of Urbanisme magazine, among others, and refers to White and Black, not Disney’s Pete, but the gardens.

Indeed, these two particular gardens of the André Citroen Park look like they sprouted through the dense urban web of the 15th Paris arrondissement, like the ears of the rascal paper mouse.

Beyond this feature, White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen have almost nothing in common except disparity and antithesis.

The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen - On the Left Side the Playground & on the Right the Esplanade Max Guedj
On the Left Side the Playground & on the Right the Esplanade Max Guedj

The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The White Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The Balard street separates the White Garden of Parc Andre Citroen from its main body. This seems to have been a decisive factor in shaping its basic characteristics.

Landscape, Psychological & Social Elements of White Garden

With a public Primary School, a public library, various apartments, a ‘centre d‘animation’, a brasserie and a – touch wood – cemetery (Cimetière de Grenelle) along the park‘s boundaries, the White Garden does not contain any essential elements of introversion and enclosure.

The White Garden does not have perimeter artificial or vegetation fences and its own walls. It is the only place in the Park that has plenty of benches, a playground, a basketball court, ping-pong tables, and boules courts. Still, it is the most accessible and substantially and practically the most open space of the Park to community and social action.

The dominant configuration of surface form is flat – there are not level changes interrupt its continuity – extending through the garden the level of Balard street. The materials that consist of the level of the White Garden are mainly composed of hard walkways or functional earth and gravel.

As for the wall – touch wood – of the cemetery, it is fortunate that, at regular intervals, its exterior is varied with fountains in front of hexagonal monolithic stones of rectangular shape, from where its passers-by and obviously still alive visitors, can dring pure running water – when it runs.

The Esplanade Max Guedj

Enclosed gardens are among the main design features of the Parc Andre Citroen. So, as a recall, reminder and counterpoint, in the center of the unenclosed and extroverted White Garden, there is also an enclosure, the Esplanade Max Guedj.

It occupies a small area and is separated from the rest by a tall stone wall, resemble – touch wood – the wall of the next door cemetery.

Internally, the Esplanade Max Guedj consists of a perimeter path and a raised garden bed, in which several bulbous and herbaceous perennials as well as shrubs have been planted, by remarkable persistence on the relatively light green foliage and white flowering.

The Successful Name

Corresponding persistence with that of Esplanade Max Guedj was demonstrated in the rest of the White Garden. Both soft and hard landscape materials were selected on the same basis, namely that of light colors and tones. At the same time, the overall design approach more broadly in this garden, it could be said here, was in some ways ‘open‘ and ‘light‘.

This, coupled with the equally if not more important fact of uninterrupted diffusion of light into space, may be sufficient to evaluate the naming as successful: Sure enough this Garden is indeed White.

Tour: 1. Inside the White Garden of Parc Andre Citroen, 2. Esplanade Max Guedj in the White Garden, 3. One of the White Garden Fountains, 4. View of the White Garden from Rue Balard, 5. View of Parc Andre Citroen from the White Garden

The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The Black Garden is bordered by a high wall and a building housing artists‘ studios, which isolates it from neighboring buildings, such as the ‘European Hospital ‘George Pompidou’, various shops, and apartments, but also to the fullest extent from the main body of Parc Andre Citroen.

Landscape, Psychological & Social Elements of the Black Garden

The Black Garden is composed of a street-level large flat area and two more, sunkened in relation to it, one of which is square in shape and located in the center and the other which of the labyrinthine structure in its periphery.

The peripheral is composed of individual gardens separated and visually blocked each other, which connect by only a path that crossing them. The path in the middle of these small gardens is wide and there are two benches on each one.

The individual enclosed gardens are surrounded by cement terraces, which create raised beds of varying height, that are verdant.

This set of enclosed gardens, offers the possibility of relative isolation to the visitor and a certain sense of privacy, which in no case tend to attract the ‘large crowds’.

The ‘large crowds’ can find their place on the few benches of the large flat main area.

The Successful Name

The enclosed and claustrophobic character of the peripheral gardens, along with the dense shade created by the numerous oaks of the main flat area of this part of the Park, seem to justify the name of the Garden as Black.

The Extrovert Area & the Diagonal Path

And in this case – as it was the case in the White Garden – as a counterpoint, the centrally sunkened space is characterized by the absence of shading and the free diffusion of light, creating an extreme contrast and at the same time a strong impression.

It is therefore no coincidence that from the heart of darkness or more precisely from the only luminous area of the heart of darkness, the long diagonal path actually starts.

The long diagonal path, passing through the large central lawn and reaching north to the Garden in Motion, functions as a key unifying element, connecting the Black Garden with the main body of the Park.

But for the long path and the multiple roles assigned to it, we will return to a later tribute.

Tour: 1. The Lower Central Area of the Black Garden, 2. Terraced Enclosed Garden in the Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen, 3. Entrance in the Periphery Gardens, 4. The Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen, 5. Periphery Path of Parc Andre Citroen Black Garden

The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

Rename the White & Black Garden

In July 2015, the White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen were rebaptized, taking their names of two exceptional ladies, Caroline Aigle and Eugénie-Malika Djendi, respectively.

Who were these two ladies?

Caroline Aigle (September 12, 1974 – August 21, 2007) was a French aviator, who at the age of 25 became the first woman fighter pilot.

The second, Eugénie-Malika Djendi (1918 – 1945 January 18) was a member of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), during the World War II, and was arrested, imprisoned and executed by the government of subhumans Nazi.

The fact of the name change alone does not matter – except the honor given to the noted and distinguished persons. It has happened, it exists, and it is very likely that it will continue to do so in the foreseeable future, by all kind of authorities.

But in this particular place and work, the act of renaming raises some questions that all come together in the following one:

Is architecture really – and landscape architecture – one of the fine arts, or is it customarily and abusively regarded as such?

The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen - Inside the Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen
Inside the Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

The Answer to the Question

The answer to the question on behalf of the ‘Kalliergeia‘ editorial team is purely hypothetical and purely questionable:

Could our beloved Mona Lisa or La Gioconda, under the government of Général De Gaulle (General Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle) be acquired a mustache on his orders and – in a such way – pay tribute to a fallen hero of the French colonial occupying army of Algeria?

The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen

References

A little bit of high temperatures, a little bit of mention to General de Gaulle, a little bit of the earthquake with the force of 4.2 Magnitude of the Richter Scale occurred at the time that these lines are being written, and the References of this shaking article entitled The White and Black Garden of Parc Andre Citroen will soberly present the ever steady Dead Cennedys musical ensemble with their relaxing composition Holiday in Cambodia.

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Dead Kennedys - Holiday in Cambodia
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  1. Ayers, A. (2004). The Architecture of Paris: An Architectural Guide. Edition Axel Menges.
  2. Bayle, C. (1998). Une certaine idée de la ville. Urbanisme, (224), 68–77.
  3. Racine, M., Provost, A., & Baridon, M. (2004). Allain Provost, landscape architect, Invented landscapes ’64-’04. Oostkamp : Stichting Kunstboek.
  4. Rocca, A. (2008). Planetary Gardens: The Landscape Architecture of Gilles Clément. Birkhauser.

Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA): Gilles Clément for the André Citroën Park

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