In November 2015 Assoc. Prof. Pat Brown, who leads post-graduate Landscape Architecture courses here at Kingston University, traveled with a group of students to Paris for a 4 day study visit. This was shared with the Architecture Unit 4 group led by Pierre d'[Avoine. In the context of our shared study of London and the River Thames we explored Paris and its relationship with the River Seine.
We met with Alexandre Chemetoff, the French planner and landscape artist who was awarded the Grand Prix de l’urbanisme in 2000 and Vincent Piveteau, Director of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Paysage de Versailles (ENSP) in the Potager du Roi , Versailles.
The following is a personal account of the visit by Calila Ribeiro Da Ponte, who is studying on the MA Landscape + Urbansim course,
“Paris is a city full of surprises, very ‘petite’ but at the same time ‘grandiose’, we had the opportunity to explore it for 4 days and I wish I could go back tomorrow. It is very rich from a cultural and artistic point of view and in terms of urban composition you could get lost in its amazing streets and riverscapes. Staying in Rambouillet (Île de France) gave us the opportunity to understand the relationship between the city’s rural and urban boundaries.”
“In 1974, Georges Perec attempted to notate every person, object, event, action, and atmospheric modulation as they appeared from varying locations on Paris’s Place Saint-Sulpice. “What happens,” Perec asks, “when nothing happens other than the weather, people, cars, and clouds?” The response, ‘Tentative d’epuisement d’un lieu a Paris’, translated into English as ‘An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris’, is a surprising document of urban signage and ephemera recorded in Perec’s voice.
Our field trip was rich and inspiring as we wandered through the city with Georges Perec’s words ringing in our ears; from Montmartre in the 18th arrondisement to Parc de la Vilette, Canal St. Martin and Place de la Republique we tried to ‘soak up’ all the atmosphere and sights the city has to offer. We visit the exhibition “Ré-Inventer Paris” at Pavillion de L’Arsenal which gives us a chronological sense of the evolution of Paris and a global knowledge of the city.
We had the great privilege of visiting the Parc de Billancourt and Île Seguin as well as a private visit to Ecole nationale supérieure de paysage Versailles (ENSP-V) guided by Karin Helms.
This type of enriching trip is a very important component of our development as landscape architects and designers allowing us to learn through experience, observation and to broaden our horizons in order to make propositions that are aspirational and resilient for the landscape.”
Images: Calila Ribeiro Da Ponte