The production of space…

...and the space of production! The case of the Parisian policy of the Hôtels Industriels


AUTHOR: Davide Casaletto
PLACE: Paris, France
YEAR: 2020
STATUS: Unbuilt
INSTAGRAM [1]: @davide_casaletto
INSTAGRAM [2]: @fluidiforme


During the 1980s, the policies launched by the Parisian administration led by Jacques Chirac constituted a process that generated new spatialities for urban manufacturing: the Hôtels Industriels. The verticalization of the production space and the consequent rationalization of the land use represented the conditions of integration and protection of the functional and economic mixity in the dense urban fabric. Moreover, they allowed a heterogeneous application of forms and uses in Eastern Paris.

At the end of the last century, this space-process model has partially contained the ex-urbanization of productive activities. Although, today it is outdated because the policies that generated it are outdated themselves. The monofunctionalization of large areas of the city and the increasing land pressure to which the Métropole du Grand Pari(s) is compared, led to a progressive functional tertiary sector of the Hôtels Industriels, thus losing the role of “condensers of productive activities”.

However, the main features of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – the hybridization, the digitalisation of new production processes, the work democratization and the promotion of local trade – today allow a rethinking of the geographical distribution of the manufacturing spaces, that is related to a progressive return to the dense urban fabric. It comes that the production space acquires again the role of urban device, generator of spatial, economic and social dynamics, which is very different from the model of the “isolated space” typical of the Fordist era.

This phenomenon was stimulated by national and municipal top-down procedures that started with the communication of the European Commission “For an European Industrial Renaissance” in 2014. Now, it represents an opportunity to investigate the future conformations of the production space and, more generally, the integration of such devices into the city-system, that in this study is considered as a spatial substrate and set of rules.

In the scenario of a new polarization of manufacturing in the city, is it possible to consider the Hôtel Industriel and the generator process as tools that, if properly declined according to the contextual features and the needs of new manufacturing processes, can regulate the integration of functional mixity into dense European urban fabric?


Davide Casaletto (1996) studied Architecture at Politecnico di Torino, ENSA Paris La Villette and ENSA Paris Belleville. He graduated cum laude in December 2020, discussing his MSc thesis “The production of space and the space of production“, deemed worthy of mention by an international jury.

During his professional path, Davide worked for several firms around Europe, such as OXO Architectes and LAN Architecture in Paris. Nowadays, Davide works at Herzog & de Meuron in Basel and he is the co-founder of Fluidiforme, an informal practice investigating the role of architecture according to the evolution of social, economic, environmental and digital issues. More on

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