As the famous architect Le Corbusier said during a discussion with students: “Architecture is a fact of art, a phenomenon of emotions, beyond the possibilities of construction. Construction is to keep the framework together; architecture is to cause emotions”. And that is the theme of this year’s edition of the ‘Festival des Architectures Vives’ in Montpellier: emotion.
As architecture plays such a big role in all of our lives, the association Champ Libre decided to organise a special festival dedicated to this art and science of designing. Every year since 2006, the general public is invited to discover the work of more than ten young, international architects. In fact, there are two festivals, one in Montpellier and one in La Grande Motte. I visited the first one. The starting point is the Chambre de Commerce in Montpellier, where you can see the first installation. After receiving the brochure with a map of the route, I went on my expedition.
Open to public
If you don’t already know your way around the centre of Montpellier, the map is a bit of a challenge. Although it might be my map reading skills as well… However, with the help of Google Maps on my phone, I eventually figured out the route. The cool thing about the architecture festival is that you discover the city in a completely different way. The festival opens the interior courtyards of historical mansions, some of them private and not normally open to the public.
I was looking out for the little signs which are clearly placed outside these ‘Hôtels Particuliers’. Sometimes you could already get a glimpse of the installation from the street. Other times you had to go inside the courtyard or even inside the installation. All to evoke an emotion, positive or negative.
When entering the courtyards, you will be welcomed by a team of students. All of them are very willing to tell you more about what you are seeing. This was a great idea and certainly added to the experience, as it really made me feel part of the festival. At the end, you can vote for your favourite installation at the pavilion, and the winner will receive the ‘Prix du Public’. For me, the winner was clear; I am curious to see if other people share my opinion!