Monday, April 16, 2012

Stade Charlety

I was hoping to take the students to visit the TGV station at Charles de Gaulle, but to keep that story short, I'll simply suggest that the recent horrors in Toulouse resulted in tighter-than-usual security and an eventual refusal.

So on even shorter notice (this was a few weeks ago now), I got in touch with the administration at Stade Charlety, and they were more than helpful in accommodating our ragtag "team" of 35. When I suggested this visit weeks before, the students were very enthusiastic about the chance to wander around a Paris stadium. But when the morning came around, that had worn off. Lesson learned. So it was a rough start, early on a Friday, several days before design projects were due (another lesson learned), but by the end of the visit, I think everyone was happy to have had the experience.

The 20,000-seat stadium is an uncommonly balanced mix of steel and concrete (click for more photos). All of this is exposed, and so the building provides several visual lessons in structural design. I enjoyed this stadium, too, because it has an architectural sensibility to it — not just harsh structure for the sake of holding up stadium seating. Our tour guide explained that in contrast to America's stadiums that typically cater to professional sports teams ($$$!), French stadiums are more local and cater to the nearby region. So they tend to be smaller, but still significant, and much more open to local activity.

Anyways, I managed to squeeze a few decent sketches out of the students that morning before they sunk into the dark vortex of design all-nighters.

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