Unfolding the City

Villa Savoye + Maison Carré

Posted in Uncategorized by Chris on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

French Countryside

Last Wednesday our group headed out to Villa Savoye and the Maison Carré; I was very impressed. We ended up renting cars and heading out from Gare de l’Est. It was about a 30 minute drive to Villa Savoye, then another 45 minutes to the Maison Carré. Apparently the Maison had just opened from a huge renovation. We decided that the traffic would be too heavy heading back into the city, so we stopped at a small town. A couple of us had drinks; I thought it was a good time to try a macaron (delicious). We made it back late that night and although it was tiring, it was a really fun day.


I am relatively skeptical of Le Corbusier’s design methods. As such, I was skeptical upon approaching the house. I didn’t much like the way it looked in reality, even though it does look good in pictures. Upon entering the house, everything changed. It was very beautiful, and the absense of decoration synergized with the complexity of space.

Villa Savoye SideVilla Savoye Roof

I apologize about the size of the pictures, but I know there is a plethora of pictures in circulation of the Villa Savoye. It was really interesting actually going somewhere that you have seen in pictures so many times. I wasn’t starstuck per se, but I was definitely feeling like I was in the presence of a celebrity.


I actually knew of Alvar Aalto before Le Corbusier. In fact, this was one of the first houses I really enjoyed looking at. For me, visiting the Maison was the fulfillment of a fading memory. In a way, I like this house less than Savoye, because the focus on details is occasionally confusing. I found Savoye to lack things to hate; I’d compare this to pop music. Aalto definitely has portrayed different cultural influences well in the house – and it shows up through wood. If the wood were stripped off the house, it would be all white like Savoye. Seeing this “imperfection” is frustrating not only because wood is beautiful, but because it surely represented the owners taste. Part of me wants to strip it off, but in this case the decoration sets the house apart.

Maison Carre Front EntranceMaison Carre BootiesMaison Carre Living RoomMaison Carre Dining Room Lamps

On a side note, I love to take off my shoes when booties are provided for a tour. It kind of makes me feel more at home.

Anyway, I’ll be posting on the first week of classes at La Villette on Thursday. They have been going really well so far: I have quite a few stories to tell.



Posted in Architecture, Journal, Theory by Chris on Sunday, September 27th, 2009

I’ve made it back from Oktoberfest all in once piece. It was quite a whirlwind, but I finally feel like I’m back in Paris. I’ll post about the fest later in the week; I don’t want to think much more about all the beer that I just drank. I’m starting studio and regular classes tomorrow; I’m really excited. I wrote this piece over the summer in New York City and I really enjoy what I’ve found.

Times Square Red StepsSo I am sitting over Times Square in the Marriott having a drink. I’m looking at the new TKTS booth – it consists of red, lit steps down on the street. One of the functions of the stairs is to take pictures of the street from an elevated level. This isn’t immediately apparent. In a particularly funny way, the stairs stand for what Times Square is all about. People on the street watch people take pictures from the steps and they are attracted to it. They want to go because so many others are there taking pictures. Once they get to the top, they realize the purpose of the stairs: to view the spectacle of Times Square from an elevated level. By being at a spectacle of Times Square and viewing the spectacle of Times Square, one feels a part of it.

I have recently talked to my friends in Paris about the moth instinct that we seem to have. It could be a human fear of darkness, but I’ve always found that when I am lost it is best to go towards the light. I don’t know if these steps have to do with that, but maybe the excess light is a comforting property of Times Square.


Posted in Uncategorized by Chris on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Our group rented some cars yesterday and drove out into the French countryside. We saw Villa Savoye and Maison Carré, which apparently just opened for visitors. Hopefully I’ll get some pictures up soon.

I’ll be heading off to Munich today around 10pm Paris time to take the night train to Oktoberfest! I should be back by Sunday, so I’ll have another post then. It is actually something I wrote in New York City over the summer about spectacle.

Stay thirsty my friends!

James May of Top Gear Builds Lego House

Posted in Architecture, External by Chris on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

James Mays Lego House

Original Article:


James May of Britain’s show Top Gear is set to move into a house made of Lego soon. Apparently, the idea came up over a beer. I would have loved this as a little kid, and I definitely enjoy it now. It seems to be a normal wooden framed house with Lego wrapped around the structural members. It should be interesting to see some interior shots if they ever come out – I really want to see how that Lego toilet would work. Maybe from this Legos will inspire a new generation of prefabricated building materials.

A side note: There are holes in the facade – maybe Ronchamp inspired?

Bubbles of Understanding

Posted in Architecture, Theory by Chris on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Jean Nouvel's L'Institut du Monde ArabeWhen we enter a new place, whether in life, physicality, or emotion, a new mental space is entered. This space is implanted within physical space by the mind as a way to comprehend and ultimately understand its surroundings. Arriving in Paris has helped me see things this way. One night the people I came to Paris with and I were standing on our balcony talking, and I realized that, by speaking in a “foriegn” language, we were isolating ourselves from the Parisians outside. If we can isolate ourselves with language, we do not exist in the same place as those around us. I am beginning to assimilate into the Parisian culture, and as I do so, I will move towards a closer understanding of reality. It is the goal of the architect to understand this reality. This reality might be even closer to the conception Parisians have of their city, simply because we in the program will know how two large cultures react in a city space. Knowing the culture that built a place is important, but architects must also know the common denominator of humanity.


Posted in Adventures, Blog Posts by Chris on Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Notre Dame Rose Window

Right now, I’m in Paris, where I’ll be living for another 9 months or so. I am doing a study abroad program through Georgia Tech’s Architecture program. I’ll be studying at ENSAPLV in the northeastern part of the city near Parc de La Villette . My apartment in Montmartre is looking great – we moved in just over a week ago. I will have a studio headed by Gernot Riether that will be starting in a week. He didn’t give us too much information about what the project would be, but he did say it would be a larger scale project situated near Parc de La Villette.

I look forward to posting a bunch of new things soon!