The building will probably be familiar to anyone who has taken the same walk as it certainly stands out in its prosaic residential surroundings. It would probably be one of the most photographed items on that particular walk, but just what is it, and what is the story behind it?
Despite looking vaguely art-deco in form, the structure was actually designed by architects Manolo Nunez-Yanowski and Miriam Teitelbaum in 1991, and houses the Commissariat de Police du 12ème arrondissement (the local police station).
Although the curves of the building are merely derivative, what makes it really noticeable are of course the sculptured human forms jutting out from the balconies on the top floor. Sometimes labelled caryatids in descriptions of the building, these are actually telamons or atlantes, as the figure is most definitely male! In fact, the figure is based on Michelangelo’s dying slave sculpture which can be found today in the Louvre.
Manolo Nunez-Yanowski is very much a postmodern architect, and unsurprisingly worked with Ricardo Bofill on several projects. Indeed, two of their most well-known creations can be seen alongside each other in the town of Noisy le Grand to the east of Paris. The Arènes de Picasso for Nunez-Yanowski (sometimes known as the camembert), and Le Palacio for Bofill.
The sculptures certainly do not give the building a very intimidating air, but then the intention probably was to make the commissariat seem more convivial. It is not known what the police officers who live and work here think about the building though!
Seen something in Paris that has caught your eye but remains a mystery, or ever wondered about obscure people or events in the city's past? Challenge me to find the answers!