Our Christmas Break Amongst the Architectural Marvels of Paris

Monday, December 11, 2017

Our Christmas Break Amongst the Architectural Marvels of Paris

Last weekend was our annual Christmas trip, and this time we went to Paris for 36 hours packed with architectural education, rewarded with an evening of wining and dining. Here are some photos and stories from our trip.

Our first stop was Frank Gehry’s Luis Vuitton Foundation, part art gallery and part museum to the building itself. Of course, as architects, we went straight to the exhibition on the design and construction of the building, featuring scale models of all the materials and structures used and how the building progressed through its various design phases.

From the outside, it’s hard to make sense of the building, which is a solid core wrapped in glass sails, forming a shape like a budding bulb. But once you explore the roof terraces, where the glass sails shelter you as you take in the view, the structure suddenly reveals its purpose.

The Luis Vuitton Foundation sits in the middle of Bois de Boulogne, a leafy park that makes the walk to and from the foundation as pleasant as the building itself.

Next was a short cab ride over to the Napoleonic Arc de Triomphe, one of Paris’ most well known attractions. I had been there before, so I was prepared for the long stairs up to the two floors within the arc, but for the rest of the team it was a (not entirely welcome) surprise.

Inside, there was an exhibition on the construction of the Arc, including more scale models, but the real attraction was the view looking out from Place Charles de Gaulle looking down the 12 avenues. After we’d had our fill of the view, we went to have our fill of French cuisine.

The next morning we were up early for an architectural walking tour, where an art and architecture professor took us through the history of Paris’ architecture and how it evolved, from art nouveau through to modernism.

This tour concluded at the Fondation Le Corbusier, a location well known to any architecture student. The foundation is comprised of two houses by Corbusier for his brother and a friend, which have been completely restored to Corbusier’s original design, right down to the door handles.

Our next stop was the highlight of the trip: The Museum of Architecture and Monumental Sculpture, which none of us had ever heard of before.

Inside were scale models of buildings, sculptures and materials throughout the entire history of French architecture, including a 1:1 recreation of an apartment from Corbusier’s Unite D’habitation, complete with furnishings. Beside it were models of the entire complex, and concept drawings that revealed Corbusier’s creative process.

The final stop was the Fondation Cartier, a stunning glass structure that appears to be set out around the trees within. The gardens were impressive, but probably best enjoyed in summer when the light didn’t make things look so dreary.

Then it was a bit of shopping at the Christmas markets before hopping on the train back to London to end our packed 36 hours in Paris.

It was a wonderful way to wrap up the year and get the whole team into a festive spirit. From the whole team at DGA, have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Clodagh Somers