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Paris

I know I am a little behind on what I promised to show you (my last project, and all of history week) but I just couldn’t wait to show you our new project and the research that we had to do for it today.  For our final project (crazy that I am already to that point) we are doing a gastronomic institute in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. I really love the concept of this project especially since I love to cook, and being able to meld these two passions is just incredible.

Today, as part of our research, we went to TECOMAH, a vocational high school outside of Paris that specializes in fields like landscaping, environmental studies and cooking.  Nestled in a cozy yet refined forest on top of a rolling hill, if there was a such a thing as a magical fairy land, this would be it. Even better than the setting were the people; happy and smiling even an hour before the sun had begun to rise.  It was so wonderful to observe a school day and to begin to understand the needs that go into this type of training, and I am so thankful that everyone was so willing to help us understand what it all entailed even though it was of no benefit to them. We get to return on next Tuesday for follow-up research, and lunch; I can’t wait!

Oh and those crepes you see there? Yes, we did get to eat those. And yes they were easily one of the best things I have had here.

And that says a lot.


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Here is a lovely view of what I got to walk through on my way to school today! Snow in Versailles! Its beautiful and definitely made the impending doom of our project deadline more palpable.  I promise to actually post this project this time, assuming the final quality meets my satisfaction (which rarely happens for a perfectionist) and next week will be much more exciting since it will be history week with the famous architectural historian William JR Curtis! I will explain more after the I get through the next 120 hours!

Like every architecture school, there really is no such thing as a “syllabus” week. Instead we usually a “let me overload you until you cry so you are broken down into not having a life again” week. Well this would accurately describe the start of my semester, especially with our new project which will only be for 2 weeks. Yikes.

The project is a pedestrian bridge that will span the canal in Pantin (a suburb that borders the inner lines of Paris) and connecting what will hypothetically be turned into a park and public center.  In reality the city is in the very early stages of figuring out what to do with this space, so it is very interesting to actually have a project space that could be considered real (something that does not happen much in architectural education).  However, right now it is scary, to say the least. It is a very industrialized part of the canal less than a mile away from the famous Park la Villette. walking up to it was quite a transition from, “oh nice office park” to feeling like I needed the buddy system.  It is amazing how much the central part of Paris is idealized, and how greatly it contrasts the other sections that surround it. For being known as a homogenous city, each quarter really does have its own personality.

Enough rambling, check out the site of my awesome new Project. She’s a beaut.

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So after a an extremely long absence thanks to final projects, finals, and then rushing home for the holidays, I am back!  Tomorrow I start classes again, and so to celebrate the final day of break we went somewhere we having been planning to go for a long time: The Hamlet!  Tucked away in the back of the Chateau gardens, behind Marie Antionette’s Grand Trianon is her own Hamlet, a small peasant town she constructed in order to feel like a commoner. Not making this up. But if you ever find yourself visiting the Chateau de Versailles, it is definitely worth it. DSC_0002DSC_0001DSC_0065 DSC_0073 DSC_0074 DSC_0075 DSC_0076 DSC_0079 DSC_0080DSC_0102 DSC_0096DSC_0110 DSC_0115 DSC_0121 DSC_0161 DSC_0164 DSC_0165 DSC_0167 DSC_0179 (2) DSC_0184 (2) DSC_0190 (2) DSC_0198 (2) DSC_0204 (2) DSC_0209 (2) DSC_0221 (2) DSC_0224 (2) DSC_0226 (2) DSC_0245

 

 

It has been way too long since I have had time to post something, but today (as of 17 minutes ago) is my birthday! woohoo! So here are some of my favorite pictures of my time abroad so far.

 

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Courtesy of the awesome photography skills of Dana Taylor

Courtesy of the awesome photography skills of Dana Taylor

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We all get caught up with life. I mean its what we are supposed to do: live. But lately I have been so caught up in the negative aspect to it that I have not even been able to see straight, let alone see the wonderful gifts that I have available to me. Thankfully a much needed walk with a good friend during one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen helped me gain some perspective.  As much as we want to accomplish everything (and I mean everything) its all for nothing if we do not take that moment to realize what we are doing and give ourselves some much needed credit. So please take a second and just be happy you are who you are, and just be.

Of course I say all this and will probably only get three hours of sleep tonight, but hey I have class in Paris tomorrow, and fly to Venice afterwards. There is no way I will complain.

Last night we finished a 4 week design project that was a collaboration with the students in the ENSAV school. Needless to say it is definitely one of those experiences that I will not be able to fully appreciate until I am working in the real world with people from different background and cultures.  We definitely had some major hurdles to overcome, from complex design concepts (or sometimes lack there of) to something as simple as language and cultural differences.  It was challenging. Very challenging, but what is worth doing if it comes easy?

This challenge has really made me reflect on how architecture is taught; there is a rigid idea of what architecture is here.  This perplexed me especially from the land of avant-garde where boundaries blur all the time.  I understand that this project was just a short snippet of the design development, but i feel that there is a strong backlash to ensure that young minds know that there is a concrete separation between what is architecture, what is art, what is engineering, and that as an architect it is bad form to incorporate the ladder subjects into your spaces.

Conversely, at the University of Illinois, from day 1 I was taught that architecture is near impossible to define, that it must be justified and rigorous  but limitless. And most importantly, meaning must be ingrained in every design decision ever made. Personally I think this philosophy is freeing.  Does architecture really have to be strictly a congregation of walls and joists to create space, or can it be more? American architects like Jeanne Gang (Reverse Effect) are delving into projects that greatly fall out of our jurisdiction as architects.  Should this be a guide for a new future for architects? Or is it just architects finding work in other fields and claiming it as architecture?

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This diagram best represents what I have been instilled with. Yes we should learn from precedents and from professors, but shouldn’t we also question what we believe to be possible? and if we can question our constitution of what is real and surreal, then why is it too much of a stretch to question our boundaries as architects?

What do you think? Were my professors too radical for depicting a term for architecture that encompasses more than the typical? Or should architects start to look at themselves as problem solvers and start to look outside of convention to take us to the next level of community impact?