"The competition brief, A Bridge in Paris, allows Atelier Zündel Cristea to locate an architectural reflection within this same realm of contemporary urban enjoyment. They noted first that the notion of happiness is often linked to Nature (« Happiness is in the countryside. » goes one common French expression). And they recognize that human beings remain nostalgic for and imaginative of a state of primal happiness, of ancestral times when body and spirit were essentially free.
Installed near the Bir-Hakeim Bridge, the Bridge is formed of inflatable modules, like giant life-preservers, 30 meters in diameter. In the central part of each ring, a trampoline mesh is stretched. The floating buoys, fabricated in PVC membrane, are attached together by cord to form a stable and self-supporting ensemble. Each module under tension – filled with 3700 cubic meters of air – develops in space with an arch-like form.”
I stepped into the shower and twisted the nob two and a quarter turns exactly. Driving, I reached for my phone in the left cup holder. And while falling asleep, I moved my foot between the wall and the mattress to feel the cold. In a lot of ways, coming home has been easy. I have slipped without thinking back into old habits. The familiar footsteps of my former self were not hard to find. They have been waiting patiently here for me. And in the movements that my body has been waiting to do – lean on my dad’s shoulder, lie in bed side by side with a friend, swing on the back porch and push off the coffee table with my left foot – I feel whole.
But there are other things I want to do now - jog down the steps into the metro, wander through the Latin Quarter looking for lunch, punch that damn four-digit code into the keypad at 6 rue, Ernest Renan. But there is no more brass keypad, no falafel to be found, no foul-smelling subway below me. And it is in these moments that I know. I know that although I am home, I have left my city behind me.
"So this is the end of it for now. There is never any end to Paris. But this is the end of the first basic part that always seemed different to me from anything that I had ever read about it."
Ernest Hemingway, alternative ending, A Moveable Feast