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Hotel Masterplan in Paris (Architecture + Interior)

We tried to search for the new meaning of contemporary hotel in Paris through the origin of the word "hôtel" in French.


Though the exact origin is not known, in the 16th century hôtel was restricted to the houses of the French nobility, and to a few public buildings such as Hôtel de Ville meaning Town Hall. By the 19th century it had come to mean a large single family town house or private mansion such as Hôtel Particulier. Today the meaning of the word "hôtel" in modern French is even more obscure and we could almost parallel it with the
English word hotel.

Place des Vosges, begun in 1605, was one of the publicly-funded urban initiatives of Henri IV and his minister Sully. It could be claimed to be the first urban reform in Paris, whose aim was to improve vacant areas of the city as part of a conscious effort to transform the city into the capital of France. The creation of the Place des Vosges determined the east of the Marais as a haut-bourgeois and aristocratic quarter, with nobility and servants of the state choosing to live near the royal residence. Just as the Henri IV used Place des Vosges to communicate to France the status of Paris as the governmental seat of France, the Parisian bourgeoisie used their homes to signify the social status of their family, and the Place des Vosges served as a prototype for their hôtel particuliers.

Unexpectedly, a crucial linkage between hôtel and theatre was found based on the Character Theory in the Cours d’architecture (1771-9) proposed by Jacques-Francois Blondel and further concreted by Claude Nicolas Ledoux in his idea of “coup d’oeil du théâtre”. He suggested the essence of design in Theatre de Besançon or further to his town planning in Saline de Chaux, France was the “to see and be seen” relationship between ‘spectator’ and ‘spectacle’. Hausmann Renovation from 1852 to 1870 had demonstrated an urban “re-planning” from streets and boulevards to façades and monuments. As Christopher Mead pointed out, the Boulevard developed from what had been the site of impromptu street spectacles into what became the city’s most lively district. The boulevards became popular places for promenading and to be seen as a stage.

Paralleled the “eye” of the spectator in Ledoux’s engraving “Coup d’oeil du theatre de Besançon” to the “eye” in the penthouse of a tower in Le Corbusier’s early sketch for the International Congresses for Modern Architecture (CIAM) in 1930, we could promptly see a mythological similarity between two masters – the hegemony of vision. They also considered “seeing” had to be constructed
as an essential part in modern living.

Category: Public

Year: 2008

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