After almost 2 weeks of uninterrupted time in Sant Cugat it was time for the UIUC architecture class to head out on another European excursion. All thirty three students along with several professors boarded a bus on Wednesday March 11th and headed in to France. In the first day we made it eight hours in to France stopping to see one of the world’s largest bridges designed by Norman Foster, Viaduct da Millau. On Thursday our trip continued we spent out morning visiting Chateau de Chambord, a large sestet originally designed a hunting lodge for French nobility whose design is partially attributed to Da Vinci. After a morning of exploring and sketching we hopped back on the bus and drove to the Chartes Cathedral. This cathedral is one of the first manifestations of the ideas which would come to define the style of Gothic architecture in the following centuries. Before reaching our destination city of Paris, we took quick trip to the Chateau of Versailles. We explored the palace and grounds for most of the morning/early afternoon. The next stop brought us to a suburb of Paris where the visionary Le Corbusier built Villa Savoye, which demonstrated what he viewed as the 5 points of modern architecture. After touring the eighty year-old house we were off to Paris.
After hoping hostel to hostel it was nice to know were had a place to call home for 4 days without moving. We were in a new hostel located in the 10th district (north east city limit). Many of us took advantage of or time in Paris taking the metro to the city center and walking around the Eiffel Tower and seeing other such attractions by night.
We've been in Paris for a few days now and I am sad that I didn't have a longer time here. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I developed in terms of understanding architecture and the city. Paris is a very interesting place because it has so many layers. The old city has a certain language that consists of mansard roofs and white stone facades, the stuff you see in the movies. Some of us actually saw a movie being filmed one day; a Japanese film called "The Emperor's Cook". But then if you go outside the city for a bit then you see more contemporary buildings that were a part of Grand Projets or a reaction to them. I love seeing these layers. It's like a physical timeline of a city, but the timeline is still going. It is a bit overwhelming seeing all that is here, both architecturally and culturally. We did a self guided walking tour here one day and I decided to go on the walking tour by myself. I decided to go by myself because the Lourve was on the tour and I take a while to go through art museums and I didn't want hold anyone up. But I liked walking through Paris by myself because it gave me time to think about the architecture I was walking through more. Instead of rushing around trying to see everything I was able to sit and casually take pictures and really understand what I was experiencing in these spaces. Also, Paris is a lot to take in because of the amount of culture that is here. Of course there's the stereotypical part of Paris, but I find the more contemporary areas of Paris more interesting. We saw two Frank Gehry buildings in one day, one was the Louis Vuitton Foundation and the other was a French cinema. The Louis Vuitton Foundation has spaces for the high society to have events as well as art gallery spaces. One of the major highlights for me here was to see Kanye's new music video for "All Day". All these art spaces seemed to be filled with some fairly new pieces of art. And it was really interesting to experience these new pieces of art when I had just been to the Louvre two days before and thus see a timeline of art culture in Paris. I was so inspired by Paris, seeing both the past and the present of it, that I was able to really enjoy my sketching. I found that started to sketch for myself instead of just completing the assignment. Sometimes school can be a bit overbearing and you lose what really inspires you to keep going. I found my inspiration again in Paris.
After our time in Paris, it was time to head back to Sant Cugat with intermediate stops to visit Le Corbusier's Notre Dame du Haut and the Convent de La Tourette. Each piece of architecture evoked a different reaction and analysis for each of us. I can confidently say we all enjoyed our time on the IASAP-BV "magic school bus". Even though traveling for 10 days was exhausting, it was all well worth all of the beautiful architecture, tasty croissants and fun memories that we all shared.