Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Being that our professor hails from Bavaria in Germany, it worked out that I have been able to visit the country twice: once on a class trip to Berlin for 8 days, and once on an independent weekend trip to Munich. Although both excursions took place in the same country, my experiences in each city were completely different.

I found Munich to be more of the storybook German city, complete with Bavarian Architecture, pitched roofs, and a brewery on every other corner. Although the city has more than a million people, with a it's winding, ungrided streets, and the complete absence of skyscrapers, it felt more like an old town than a burgeoning metropolis. That's not to say that life in Munich felt slow, on the contrary it was quite lively and the streets packed with people, it simply felt to me as if much of the prewar culture had remained. The city itself was devastated during the Second World War, however following the occupation of Germany the citizens decided to reconstruct the town basically as it had been before the war, which is quite different than what happened in Berlin with the division of the city by the Allied Powers. Overall it had a feel to it which I could say was uniquely Munich; it had a distinct identity and was a cohesive place.

Even though the wall fell over twenty years ago, the disjunction that it was built to create still can be seen in the city. There is no longer a feeling of East v. West, but the city is quite a
metropolitan city. Much of the city was covered in graffiti. And by much I mean all. Because of the length of our stay in the city, and
the nature of our visit, we were able to visit many neighborhoods within the city that a tourist might not normally see. We looked at several pre-war housing complexes done by the most famous Modernist architects along with socialist housing blocks that remain from the GDR times. All of this is mixed with the Americanized Western influence that came in the 60's - 80's and the turn of the century architecture of Potsdamer Platz and Unified Germany. The most impressive things that I saw were the remnants of the war; many buildings from the 18th and 19th century were still pocked with bullet holes. Many of the older buildings were reconstructions of the originals, but some showed purposeful reminders of the consequences of the war. Between the Wall and the War, Berlin is perhaps the most historically seeped city I've ever been to.

Although the Germans love their Mercedes and VW's, another significant impression from my trip to berlin came from riding on both the above ground and subterrainian trains. It fascinated me how much the feeling I had shifted as the city did out the view of my window. I was able to ride the city from east to west and I saw how the history and architecture shifted depending on location.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Though I thank everyone for voting, it seems that the poll may have been irrelevant, as I have now been to three of the four sites, and am all queued up to visit Nou Camp for a future contest.  The voters were right for recommending La Sagrada Familia; it was simply stunning, and by simply I  mean the most intricately and elegantly designed structure I have ever stood beneath - and it was a construction site. All I can say is that in the year 2030 I will be making another pilgrimage to the site, to stand beneath such a fountain of genius.  If I were to see a blind man enter the gates, I would weep for him.  Parc Guell and Montjuic reveal a new side of the city, which I previously believed contained solely a grid of tightly pitched buildings along narrow corridors.  These two parks look promising in that they may provide a needed respite from crowded urban life, to which, although I grew up on the mean streets of Signal Mountain, I am still adjusting.  Both sites also provided an display of the metropolis from above.  The city sprawls across the landscape, however when you pass through the hedge maze of buildings, you know that every utile space has been employed.   Sunday brought a visit to the Picaso Museum of Barcelona. Housing more of his early work, the museum presented a side of the artist to which I was unaware, a side that was eclectic, with not even a distant view of cubism to be seen. It was as if it were the work of several artists, not one man.  So we've done quite a job on playing the tourist role so far.  Beyond that I have found a great English Pub down the street where I've been in football heaven.  We did have our first taste of studio work today, but there is quite a difference in sitting in a classroom in South Carolina and in discussing a work that sits before your eyes on the street corner, granting you access to more than just a photograph.  To touch the material of the building itself is a way of understanding the architecture which could not be ascertained  otherwise.  The recreation of the German Pavilion by Mies Van der Rhoe for the European Expo of 1929 was a limitlessly austere example of modern architecture.  To read about something is one thing, but to experience the building as it was intended -to occupy the space that has been transformed by the architect- is quite another.  Another purely architecturally involved venture was the trip to the Shoko Discoteque/Club where DJ Berrie spun mad beats til the sun rose over the Mediterranean. Okay, so perhaps that wasn't quite the architectural experience as say Casa Batllo, however I refuse to discredit it as academic, although you can't teach these moves.  


Friday, January 15, 2010

Moving the CLAM Coursework to a New Blog

I've decided to move the course work and discussion for my CAAH class to I'll have an update on my travels shortly.


Monday, January 11, 2010


My name is Michael Deere, and I am a Junior Architecture student, and I hail from Chattanooga, Tn, which is about a four hour drive to Clemson, and about two days worth of plane travel (counting delays in London) away from Barcelona, where I am studying architecture for the entirety of the Spring term (and hopefully for a bit of a stint over the summer as well).  Just being here for three days has already instilled in me a desire to absorb all I can from such a rich architectural, historical, and cultural metropolis. I hope this site gives you at least a glimpse of the wonderful experiences upon which I am about to embark here in Catalunya.