I’m going to tip-toe around talking about La Tourette architecturally because I’m scared of saying too much and being completely wrong, or saying too little and risk seeming naive. I learned that this building is really about experience and having the chance to see, touch, and smell is essential to understanding it. In my case, I studied the plans and sections in school, but they are deceptively simple compared to actually walking through the building. The spaces achieve a sort of multiplicity that makes the building seem to have endless pathways and possibilities. Texture and fenestration serve as a code for you to decipher as you walk along the building that is currently inhabited by a fraction of the friars that the monastery was originally designed for. Now, architects, students, and religious building aficionados (?) fill the halls, and cells, every day. We arrived around noon, and spent the afternoon photographing and sketching while another group of French students fervently measured each slab and window. After sketching, we had dinner in the refractory with about 5 other guests that were spending the night and this is around the time that I started to get sketched out about the sleeping arrangements.
The private sleeping “cells” for the friars are narrow, about 5 feet in width, have just a slim bed, a bookshelf, desk, and sink. At the end of the room, a balcony allows a view to the forest outside. Well really, after sundown there was absolutely nothing that I could see, just darkness. We were advised to stay very quiet at night because the noise would carry along the concrete corridors. I realized this when I would hear neighbors whispering or coughing in the halls. Now, the halls were incredibly dark, the bathroom was father down the hall than I liked, and I confess: I’m a wimp. I thought to myself: “Just fall asleep, you’ll wake up tomorrow morning and everything will be totally cool…” and just as I said that the world’s creepiest owl hoots right outside my balcony (or at least it seemed that way). The hooting continued for an hour and I just laid there cowering under my blanket. (Why was an owl scaring me so much??? I’m ridiculous.) At some point, I nodded off and started to have an odd, yet initially comforting dream, of my mother massaging my foot. I decided I wanted my mom to stop, so I tried to pull my foot away. The mom in my dream would not let go as much as I struggled. I started to yell, “get off! let go!” until I woke myself up by actually pulling my leg up. My elbow also hit the wall, probably making a noise that the entire hall could hear. After all that, my foot felt… weird. Warm. It was so strange. I’m not one to believe in weird spiritual stuff, but a million possibilities were running through my mind as I tucked myself extra tight into 2 layers of blankets.
After the owl and weird foot massage episode, it was still only 2 am and I wondered how I’d make it through the night. Technology came to the rescue and I started to watch “Moonrise Kingdom”, which in my opinion sucks, but the only other movies I had were “Leon the Professional” and the vampire film “Only Lovers Left Alive” which would not serve to soothe me into sleep. Thank goodness, that put me to sleep and I was only awakened once more by Mr. Owl.
The benefit of not being able to sleep is waking up early and walking in the fog in search of a good picture. Admitedly, after the night I had the morning fog was kinda creeping me out… hahaha. But, I stuck through it and was able to get a couple pics of the blue blue-toned dawn before the bus arrived to take us to Ronchamp…