Inspirational Photos

Architects get their inspiration from many places. In my experience, our day to day life is spent with our attention focused on very pragmatic things: water proofing details, code compliance, worrying about your budget, dealing with building officials.

None of those things is the reason I, nor most of my fellow architects, became architects.

We became architects to design. In order to recharge and get inspiration, like most people, we need to get out of our normal routines and get away and see new things. Here are some of the new things I recently saw.

Note: all of the following photographs are copyright 2019 David Locicero.

I recently spent a week in Bordeaux, France. The City is the heart of the French wine industry. Much of the City was built in the 18th Century. Here on a walk through the center of the City I found a thoroughly modern facade on the side of an 18th Century building. They used the same limestone on the modern facade as is used throughout the city. This is a government building.
One of the things I love about Europe, is the lack of fear of texture. This is a detailed photograph of a lime stone retaining wall in St. Emilion, a small hill town outside of Bordeaux, France, famous for the wines made by the Chateau in the area.
The mix of old and new can be quite jarring, but I still love this door way. It is a new door in a 19th century barn. The stone has been dressed and a new steel and glass door has been inserted into the old arched opening. The Corten canopy provides some sculptural relief and marks the entry.
Another picture of a modern building inserted into a thoroughly traditional neighborhood. Based on what the guide books tell me, this neighborhood was mostly built in the 17th and 18th centuries. The building on the right looks 19th century to me, but the building to the left is a very recent construction. The architect is using different materials, but similar proportions and dimensions to help stitch the modern building into the ancient neighborhood.
This is the old entrance hall to a wine merchant’s building built in the 1740’s. This is the home of the Museum of Wine and Commerce. a charmingly dusty little museum in Bordeaux. The wine merchant had his business on the ground floor and in the caves (basements), and he lived on the floors above. The stair to the left leads to the merchant’s apartment on the upper floors. The stair to the right leads to his wine master’s apartment at the back of the building.
The stair in the middle leads down to the caves where the wine was stored. I love the complex geometry of the ceiling vaults.
Being France, no major city is free from a spectacular modern civic building. Here, the Cite du Vin, the new museum of wine and culture, soars 8+ stories above the shores of the Gironde river. Designed to resemble a wine carafe, it has a fascinating permanent display about the history of wine culture. There is also a floor with tasting rooms, an auditorium, offices, and the most spectacular tasting bar on the 8th floor with views out over the city of Bordeaux and the surrounding countryside. There is a fancy pants restaurant on the 7th floor, as well as a deli and a brasserie on the ground floor.
Decoration is an integral part of classical architecture. This is a keystone to an arch in one of the main buildings in Bordeaux, with a representation of Bacchus, god of wine. It is an appropriate image for the Bordeaux. The image of Bacchus appears on buildings throughout the city.

It was a quick trip. With my interests in architecture, wine, and food, it was a terrific destination. We will be going back again. I liked the city more than Paris. It is a much smaller city of only about 250,000 people, but is very lively and young, with a flourishing city center, university, and high tech sector. But wine is still the main industry here.

I enjoyed very much the way the city is maintaining it’s historical character, but also not shying away from building modern buildings that are un-apologetically modern and contemporary. It is an expression of the French character and society: steeped in tradition, but completely modern.

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