Sunday, October 14, 2012


Soaking up the abbey

We kicked off the semester with a field trip to Jumièges Abbey combined with a short design project using that site. Our decision to take a trip so soon in the semester (eight days after the students' arrival to be exact) certainly put some strain on the profs since we didn't quite have everything ironed out for the design project. However, the trip was a resounding success, and the design work thereafter achieved what we intended: an intensive design workshop that allowed the students to meld, share ideas, get to know one another, and also get us profs into gear after a relaxing (or not?) summer.


The abbey itself has a typical "old-church history," in that it was built, burnt down a few times, rehabilitated a few times, changed hands a few times, changed function a few times, and is what it is today, which in this case is an interesting mix of architectural styles displayed through the ruins of what remains after the French Revolution.


We asked the students to design a roof over the nave and apse of the church, considering the (arguably preposterous) scheme of using the church for live performances of a sort. Their designs provided a wonderful assortment of proposals and approaches for what was a very focused challenge. I hope over the semester, we'll see the creative processes continue.


On the way back from Jumieges, we stopped into Rouen to see some non-ruinned cathedrals, crash for a night, and enjoy the city. Our last additional to the trip was a quick visit to Château Gaillard, which I'll simplify as the remains of a fortified castle perched atop a hill overlooking a valley, river, and town. The sun was setting as we climbed over ruins, walked between actors reenacting the chateau's activities of its day, and sketched away the site.

Château Gaillard

Not too shabby for the first weekend.

Full set of pics right here.

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