Realizing Chambord

March 29, 2018
This was a most interesting/challenging class. Thank you to the team producing such beautiful drawings and deep thinking. What we discovered and exposed is very important and can change in a positive way the perception one might have about the role of architects and the practice of architecture. Making a building we have never really seen become an actor in the narrative we created as well as a trigger for thinking about history, culture and science that we have had these past 6 weeks is marvelous and very unique. If we are so opposed to the idea of this class being repeated, it is not just because of the chateau’s unique anniversary, it is because of the uniqueness of the group we formed. The presentation was a true example of the cohesion that we have managed to build. After the presentation in English, another presentation was given in Chinese, with the same effect of giving the audience so much serenity that it took them a while to actually know what to say.  This wasn’t fantasy or dream, it was hygge
Exceptional and tough. Thank you for the hard work and for the performance.

On August 6th, Michael Golec came to speak about his work on Geoffroy Tory’s Champ Fleury, a book where the 16th century humanist and printer, presented a new typeset, meant for the new machine age, and based on the proportions of the human body. We drew parallels between the chateau and the book, as Michael explained the relationship between the original 1525 book and its early 20th century english translation by Bruce Rogers. According to Michael, Bruce Rogers' ambition was to bring Tory’s work to the true machine age and create what Tory would have wanted if the advancement in print making had been more developed.

Did Tory anticipate these developments when he made his famous book, did the designers of Chambord anticipate the 3d printing that we are making with the drawings today? Should designers focus on what past designers could have done if they had the technology we have today or should they design in anticipation of the technologies to come? Will there be a time when those two perspectives will merge? Michael thinks we are close, and compares it with riding a bicycle going forward while being able to pedal backwards because the speed of the bike is great enough. Thank you Michael for the insight.
To understand better the spirit of the Renaissance, the class took a field trip to the Newberry Library.
There, Chris Fletcher told us the stories of three different Books of Hours, those prayer books that represented “popularization for the nobles” of what in the early middle ages could only be said by the clergy. The one which interested us most, that of Geoffroy Tory published in 1525 stood in the center, between the 15th century manuscript and a 1549 second edition. Just as in the Chateau de Chambord, you could see that the designer’s pure classical esthetic marked a turning point from the medieval hand drawn scrolls and illuminations, only to be forgotten in the later edition, when the master was dead and purity of style made way to a more popular vernacular. The book, and the chateau, stand in the crossfire between the desire of one and the realization by many.

We have made great progress last week. We now have Argo. We thought we had discovered it, but in fact Roland Barthes had already described it as  “an object with no other cause than its name, with no other identity than its form”. We have Argo’s nauts, explorers like us who glean truths and lessons in historical building. We have time (well, not really) and space. And we know that what goes up must come back down (or does it?). The team is drawing, composing and by Tuesday, for our next review, we will have all the pieces of puzzle. Everything will be a lot easier from then on.

Chun Zeng’s orbiting Chambord pieces

After just two weeks into the Realizing Chambord studio and hours of research, translations from the French, drawing numerous roofs and chimneys, and conversation about Utopia, we are only beginning to see the spark of a light about what we will submit for the 500th anniversary exhibition of the Chateau. Mid Review is this Tuesday: we will be moving faster from now on. No more of the spinning heads and random mouse clicks that Charlie Miller described in the storyboarding of his impressions about Chambord.

We must now decided between optimism and pessimism, historicism or futurism, environmentalism and formalism, dukkha or sukha, skepticism or cynicism, adding or erasing. We have 440 rooms to deal with, 282 chimneys, 84 stairways (mostly spiral ones), 13000 acres, 127 inhabitants.
At the end of the day, one thing comes out strongly, it is endless motion: of Chun Zeng’s orbiting Chambord pieces, or of letters from Nicole Vendelin's new alphabet inspired by Geoffroy Tory 16th century Champ Fleury.
More to come.



1468 AIADO 4956 6W2 session: July 9 – August 17
Mondays and Wednesday (9:00am-4:00pm) + Tuesdays (6:00-9:00pm)
Faculty: Odile Compagnon and Jade Boudreaux

Lines, Words, or Numbers: Which Does Utopia Require Most?

With this question, we invite you to enter a reflection on the ultimate future of a historic monument: the Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France and to participate in an exhibition: “Chambord Inachevé”, which will mark the 500th anniversary of its construction.

The Domaine National de Chambord, and the office of Dominique Perrault Architect who will curate the exhibit, is inviting twenty architecture schools, worldwide, to propose a speculative vision for the monument, utilizing the concept of Utopia, which was essential at the time of its development. 

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is responding to this invitation and proposes a 3 credit elective multidisiplinary summer studio. In this studio, we will explore a forward-thinking response not only to address the fundamental values set forth by Renaissance thinkers, but also to demonstrate SAIC’s position in imagining the world of tomorrow, through drawing, storytelling and computing. We will discuss questions such as the role of architecture in representing fictional narratives, past present and future intersections between art, science and philosophy, and the importance of buildings in political discourses. The studio will produce, collectively, the 2D, 3D and 4D deliverables for the exhibition: a series of 20 digital images and one short film.