It was Paris summer of 2015 and my friends and I had just passed some famous writers apartment (Ernest Hemmingway) after seeing some café where famous writers famously wrote. While taking in these life moments, we took a right on a street named Rue Rollin. My thoughts ranged from “how Parisian” to “wow I wonder how this walk affected Hemingway and his writing” then I became Hemmingway and drank in that moment as only I imagined he would. It took a couple of meters and reaching the end of the street to see what the architect in me had failed to notice the entire walk.
There it was, the street dead ended into this circle. It was a pretty dry day - moisture at a low - but there was just the slightest trickle of water present to aid me in seeing that I was in the face of a magnificent storm drain. The entire street in fact was slanted inward. The water ran to the center of the street keeping people’s homes and the pathway clear of water. The water then travelled down the street like a small river rushing to the ocean. The scene ran through my head.
A storm hits Paris, everyone taking shelter inside. But when the storm subsides and the sun shows its face the people come out. Children delight in seeing small floods - they splash in puddles and look for tad poles. But here, here on Rue Rollin, the children head to their pond. The streetscape comes to life. The once skate-space pass-through area gains new identity.
Street infrastructure doesn’t have to be ugly and storm drains don’t have to be the things in the curb. This street, minimal at best, lacks appropriate foliage to call it natural but it uses another natural feature we often overlook: water. The wet liquid defines Rue Rollin’s beauty. The small stream ever present and the “park space” at the streets end provide the inhabitants a place of their own. Unique to the streets of Paris, this is the pretty pond at Rue Rollin.