Yves Steff & Maxime Giraud-Mangin, New York’S sister, project for the competition of ideas, 1980, original lost, photo coll. part.

This astonishing drawing was submitted to the competition of ideas launched by Brest city council in 1980, the aim of which was to further involve the public in urban planning. It was proposed by a duo of young architects, inspired by Rem Koolhaas, who wanted tobring a tinge of provocation to this high-profile event.

La place de la Liberté (Freedom Square) was a focal point, not only of this project but of the competition itself, which wanted this space to become a vibrant connection between the reconstructed city and its surroundings. This immense square, designed by Mathon after the war, was laid out in the style of a French garden and its connection to the Rue de Siam was problematic.

The drawing by Yves Steff and Maxime Giraud-Mangin shows a huge fire spreading through the bourgeois town from the port and the castle (blackened by fire) up to the Place de la Liberté. The city of Brest has become almost unrecognisable as many skyscrapers have sprung up. The architects reimagine Brest as though it were New York’s twin city. This idea is illustrated by the flaming torch emerging from the water which looks like that of the Statue of Liberty. Though going against the tide of nostalgic attitudes harking back to the picturesque pre-war Brest, this drawing nevertheless revisits, in its own way, the old dream of Brest as a transatlantic port.

Sonia de Puineuf