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Baroque Cities and the Haussmanization of Paris By: Randa Al-Salhi Sarah Naghawi Shahed Al-Houarni

Characteristic Elements of Baroque Urban structure: 1. Focal Points:  Squares in baroque cities act as the real core of the city with many public activities, as they and their monuments are perceived as fitting foci of urban totality.

Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome

Palazzo del Quirinale, Rome

2. Avenue, path or directional Street: The urban foci are interconnected by straight, regular streets which provide important movement networks as well as perspective vistas. Long avenues and radial street networks were common in baroque cities.

Karlsruhe, City in Germany, The radiating patterns of Baroque plans.

3. Uniform urban districts: Whose architectural appearance is subordinated to an overall program, buildings are no longer individual: they are part of a superior system or idea. And they have to submit to a program which establishes the general character of the design of an entire street or district.

Rue Castiglione toward Place Vendome, Paris

Baroque city zoning • strict zoning • land use is divided into several functions • Public versus private and residential versus industrial are common trends in the spatial layout.

The purpose of baroque layout is to display a city’s power and strength, resulting in the construction of monuments.

• Designed to put people in their place utilizing hierarchy of space and separation of classes.

• The center is the most important part which is usually public and commercial. • Important buildings are located in the center and moving towards it decreases the accessibility. • Green spaces and open spaces are found throughout the city. • Squares and parks also display a hierarchy of space, the size of public spaces decreases when moving from the center.

Achievements of the Baroque 

The discovery that monumental projects can influence their environment.

The rediscovery of the 'total concept' in urban environment by the way of its formal aesthetics as the axis of vision becomes architectural axis with vistas to infinity, multiple viewpoints and the balance of spatial elements. The Baroque city has a dynamic, open character, which is also expressed in its inner structure: it’s wide, straight streets allow for increased traffic of people and vehicles and its desire for systematization program. The discovery of a basic urban design sequence, namely the experience of a spatial progression from: Gate > Street > Piazza > Monumental Building or focus Prelude > Introduction > Meeting > Climax. The discovery that nature can play a vital part in the townscape, especially in the form of parks and gardens, grottos, ponds and lakes; as a succession of light and dark.

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Sixtus V - Urban Reformation of Rome in the Baroque Age

Pope Sixtus V (1585 – 1590)  Best known for the urban reform of Rome in which he accomplished a grand Baroque showcase of spatial organization and city planning with architect Domenico Fontana.

 He had three main goals in mind for Rome: 1. 2. 3.

Supplying water to the hills of the city Link key points in the city using a network of main streets Aspired for the ultimate aesthetic unity





2 3

1 Antoine Lafrery's map of the Seven Churches: (in red) 1) S. Pietro; 2) S. Giovanni in Laterano; 3) S. Maria Maggiore; 4) S. Croce in Gerusalemme; 5) S. Paolo fuori le Mura; 6) S. Lorenzo fuori le Mura; 7) S. Sebastiano and 8) S. Maria del Popolo.


He included both religious buildings and secular monuments that are important key points in Rome thus maintaining a balance and an overall continuity in motion


He used major landmarks and located 4 obelisks across the city allowing a flow of movement and a visual connection which helped build the structure of Rome we know today and allowing future development.

The Grandiosity of the Baroque Versailles

 An example of Baroque invention created rather than further expanded  Started as a modest hunting-box  It was during the 17th and early 18th century that it a true Baroque masterpiece fully embracing the grandeur with an awe-worthy park, a village that grew to become a town supported by the palace, and main streets that were typical in Baroque cities

Versailles: detail plan of palace, park and town in 1746

L’Enfant’s plan for Washington DC

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Washington DC, a seat of power, was designed and planned by Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant as the new capital city. L’Enfant was raised in France which clearly influenced his plan od Washington DC The gridiron layout, radial routes and avenues, topography controlled vistas, and the symbolic significance of the Capitol and President’s house are all similar to Versailles design tactics.

Washington: the L’Enfant plan, a copy of the original manuscript drawing, made in 1887





Washington: aerial view looking west from a point just north of the axis Capitol Hill (A) to the Washington Memorial (C). The White House (B) completes the Federal Triangle, connected to the Capitol by Pennsylvania Avenue. The Pentagon, on the Virginia bank of the Potomac, is keyed D. Georgetown is at the top right.

The Haussmanization of Paris

Haussmann's renovation of Paris was a vast public works program commissioned by Emperor Napoleon III and directed by his perfect of the Seine, GeorgesEugène Haussmann, between 1853 and 1870. Haussmann's work was met with fierce opposition, and he was finally dismissed by Napoleon III in 1870; but work on his projects continued until 1927. The street plan and distinctive appearance of the centre of Paris today is largely the result of Haussmann's renovation.

It included the demolition of medieval neighbourhoods that were deemed overcrowded and unhealthy by officials at the time; the building of wide avenues; new parks and squares; the annexation of the suburbs surrounding Paris; and the construction of new sewers, fountains and aqueducts.

Reasons for Haussmannization From 1800 to 1850 the population of Paris doubled to become over one million. This rapid growth put great strain on Paris’s infrastructure and resulted in a massive overcrowding problem. In 1850 the majority of Paris was still the medieval style of unplanned narrow winding streets as seen in the picture to the right. These streets featured open gutters for carrying sewage that were breeding grounds for disease. These unplanned streets were narrow, often had confusing layouts and were not efficient for commerce and traffic.

There were also political reasons for the renovation. From 1790 to 1850 France had transitioned between Royal dynasties, Republics, and Empires six different times! At this point revolutions seemed to be the fate of every French Government a fate that Emperor Napoleon III was keen to avoid. Paris was the focal point of revolutionary movements and by this point Parisian barricades had become synonymous with revolution. Napoleon III realized that the narrow streets of Paris were easy to barricade and the winding disorganized layout made it difficult for troops to quell rebellions quickly.

The Plan: Haussmann embarked on on a radical project of urban design to rebuild Paris as a modern city. The project included… •A greatly expanded sewer system. •The construction of wide boulevards. •Gas lighting for the streets. •The formulation of public building regulations. •The construction of monuments. •An updated and uniform facade for the city’s buildings. •A reorganized and symmetrical road system. •The construction of new parks. •The division of Paris into arrondissements (Districts) and the expansion of the city’s limits.

The extent of the construction can be seen in these pictures of the Avenue de L’opera both during the construction and in modern times

Phase I  The Grand Cross Roads:Connecting East-West & North-South;  Major streets developed were:  Rue De Rivoli  Rue Saint-Antonie  Boulevard Strasbourg  Boulevard Sebastopol

 Boulevard Michel  Built Hotels: Grand Hotel de Louvre  Built New Squares with theatres :Fontaine du palmier  Built Gardens: Bois de Boulogne

Phase II  The construction of a large new square, place du Chateau-d’Eau.

• The new railroad stations • Huge new parks being constructed on the edge of the city. • Two new government buildings, the Tribunal de Commerce and the Prefecture de Police, were built. • Planned to construct 26.294 km of new avenues and streets.

Phase III

The renovation of the gardens.

Building a new rue de châteaudon and clearing the space around the church NorteDame de Lorette.

The construction of 28 Km of the new boulevards.

Construction new avenues and streets on the annexed land.

Downfall due to extensive works.

Roads One of the most important aspects of the plan was the renovation of Paris’s main roads. Haussmann brought symmetry to the city. The new roads were laid out in a grid running east to west, north to south with diagonal connections radiating out. Perhaps most importantly the wide avenues would be hard to barricade and allow fast access for troops while also improving commerce. The construction of new roads and the widening of streets would require the expropriation and demolition of many buildings.

Sewers  The Pre-Haussmann sewers had been built by a man named Bruneseau in 1805. Bruneseau’s underground system intermixed sanitary and unsanitary water.  During the 1800’s Germ theory came to replace the earlier Miasma theory of disease, and brought new ideas about sanitation and disease prevention.  His sewer used iron piping and new digging techniques made possible by the Industrial Revolution.

Facade of Buildings Haussmann and Napoleon III wanted the buildings of Paris to share a unifying theme. The city was rebuilt with a neoclassical facade that has is still typical of Paris today. The widening of the streets allowed for extra height to be added to the buildings increasing living space.

While both Napoleon III and Haussmann wanted to modernize Paris at the same time they were adherents of a more classical style of architecture. One such landmark constructed during this time was the Palais Garnier opera seen below. The building typify the very neoclassical style so loved by Napoleon III which can be observed in the picture of the Opera’s interior bellow.

REFERENCES: Doukhan, I. (2001). Baroque City: The Conception of Time and History, European Humanitarian University Epstein-Mervis, M. (2014). Tracing Washington, D.C.'s Design Roots in Versaille, Retrieved from Morris, A.E.J. (1972). History of Urban Form (Third Edition)

Baroque Cities and the Haussmanization of Paris  
Baroque Cities and the Haussmanization of Paris