My introduction to Architecture began seriously as I worked under my father’s supervision from a young age, drawing up floor plans and elevations and building models to scale at his construction company in central California. When we moved to Switzerland, its contrast to “new” America made me feel as if I had travelled back in time. I was overwhelmed by a sense of history, the juxtaposition of place and time where structures from an earlier period are perfectly integrated with those of the present. Suddenly history became a part of my everyday existence as I travelled to school on cobblestone streets and passed Gothic style buildings in Zurich. I never had to think about what I wanted to do in life, because architecture has always been a part of who I am; what I believe I was meant to do, and most importantly, what I yearn to do.
My six years spent in Switzerland strongly influenced my design philosophy. This is perfectly encapsulated in Einsiedeln, exemplary of the contradictory nature of Switzerland, and Mario Botta’s belief that architecture is a reflection of its time and ethos. Die Bibliothek Werner Oechslin, a modern abstract architectural library designed by Botta in the 1990’s, sits on a historical pilgrimage route. Across the way is the baroque style Benedictine Abbey from 934. Although these two structures are centuries apart in style, they stand side-by-side harmoniously. This metaphor for the path from past to present, and the relationship of architecture to culture and history is something I draw inspiration from. During my internship at Lussi+Halter Architekt Bureau in Luzern, I was introduced to sustainable modern architecture. Employing sustainable materials echoes Swiss culture and their desire to assimilate their lifestyle with the environment rather than compromising it.
I am fascinated by the grandiose architecture of the early 18th century, as illustrated by Jules Hardouin-Mansart’s Palace of Versailles. The opulence of the palace reveals the great chasm that existed between the extravagances of the royal family with the impoverished reality of the citizenry of France. However, I embrace the moderation shown by Mario Botta and Frank Lloyd Wright who both strived to create a natural harmony between place, time and culture. A balance between the richness of old architecture with the modern constraints of environment, budget and materials is a modern ideal I hope to one day master.
My A level choices have enabled me to broaden my cultural and historical awareness in ways that have supported my fascination for Architecture. In Art, I chose to do an artist study on John Piper’s avant-garde interpretation of buildings in the 20th century. Studying languages has given me a deeper insight into the French and German contributions to European development as expressed in literature and History of Art. In the Newspaper Club, I wrote my first article on sustainable modern architecture, describing the ideal fusion between environment, economy and community. I have a good knowledge of US, Swiss and German History from my American education and the six years I spent in Switzerland. It was difficult at first, transitioning from being an honours student in the US to needing a dictionary just to do a simple Maths problem. Moving around the world has led to some struggles in my education, however has never deterred me from my aspirations to graduate and continue on to higher education. It was a humbling experience, which has enabled me to adapt to change.
Mario Botta’s philosophy of determinism that architecture is influenced solely by the environment and events is where I diverge from his ideas. Though certain things in life may be predetermined, one must exercise free will to foster creativity. Growing from the desire of a little girl to draw pictures with her father, I have evolved into someone who views architecture with a global perspective. It is my fervent wish to use my time at University to continue developing my own style in order to find an ideal equilibrium between man and his environment.
Francesca's Travel Blog on Archinect:
Lussi + Halter Architekten AG, Lucerne, Schnupperlehre
Southampton Solent University, Southampton, UK, BArch, Architecture
I am beginning my Bachelors in Architecture at the University of Southampton Solent, and hope to complete a masters in London.
Mougins School, Mougins, France, High School, College Programme (A-levels)
Here at Mougins, I completed my high school education in A-levels (UK school system).
Hull's School Ltd., Zurich, Switzerland, High School, College Programme
After attending a Swiss school in Lucerne for three years, I switched to an English speaking private school in the city of Zurich, where I spent two academic years.