This weekend our class went up north to the Normandy region. The area is absolutely breathtaking. One of our main destinations was the ruins of Jumieges, a benedictine abbey that was sold and turned into an quarry during the french revolution. Because of this the remains are in a half withered state of decay, however this makes it all the more beautiful. If it had been preserved there is no chance I would have learned of it let alone loved it as much as I do. The present state is not its intended purpose or form, yet the intervention of what can be seen as a disaster has actually brought more spirit into the space. For me having the earth and sky surrounding the natural withering stone is much more spiritual than any mosaic or truss system that was originally there. It is both haunting and peaceful, missing and complete, and perfect in every way.
That being said, our purpose for seeing these ruins was for our first studio project. It seems very Ironic, yet it is a rather ingenious idea. As architects we will be faced with clients who want to cover or destroy magnificent structures so it can be re purposed and seen as brand new. It is our job however to not only meet the needs of the client, but to see the problems that they never knew existed and fix those also. Our project is to create a roof system over the main nave so that it can be used as a concert hall. While the prompt is rather challenging, it is also extremely compelling since we all adore and respect the state it is in today. Because of this there is definitely a sense of responsibility to perform for this project, regardless of the reality of it all. Since this is just the start of the project, I will update you when we finish in two weeks. Until then you get to soak up the mystical qualities that are present at Jumieges.