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Architecture: Castles, towers & random structures

I think I need to get back to architecture in this blog as it's one of my main interests and influences. Trawling through the photo albums of my trips to wherever, by far the majority of the pictures I take are of architecture and sculpture and sometimes on my travels - if I'm lucky - I come across my favourite type of structure which is a mixture between the two. The images here - all found in France - exemplify the kind of forms which I find the most satisfying.....

This castle in France is a perfect example, the most elemental and simple of shapes - the cylinder and the square - combined into a solid whole.
It is precisly structures like this which make me think of what
the artist Constantin Brancusi said "Architecture is inhabited sculpture".

I took shots from every angle of this ancient church in Normandy - again just simple geometric shapes - cylinder, cone and pyramid combining to make a satisfying solid mass.

From another viewpoint the pyramidal tower slices up into the air as a fantastic elongated triangle

I also love the pollarded trees in France (they cut them every year) which with their club fists are so sculptural

This chateau could date back to the 13th century - it is these really ancient buildings which are constructed in the most simple and straightforward style, virtually no adornment, just solid, imposing blocks of stone whose rooves and walls combine to form a powerful, unambiguous mass.

The windowless tower and sheer, high walls hint at its former role as fortress.

This stone trough in the chateau grounds was adjacent to the old lavoire so I'm assuming it had some function to do with washing clothes - but maybe not, who knows what purpose it served in daily activities five to seven centuries ago. It was its pure sculptural presence which stuck me.

Triangles. cylinders and rectangles - the geometry of the child's building blocks. It's not unusual to see these magnificent old edifices consigned to farmyard storage.

I can't think of a more satisfying three dimensional structure than this with its simple juxtapostition of fat cylinder, delicate cone and elegant rectangular block. Ofcourse the texture and colour of stone and brick, moss and ivy enhance the vision. These ancient places are often abandoned and rotting - I want them all!

This Romanesque church in southern France is an essay in simplicity and elegance. The arrangement of rectangle and semi circle couldn't be more perfectly proportioned. Later periods of architecture - Baroque and Gothic for example - seem so overdone in comparison.

When I mentioned structures which are a mixture of architecture and sculpture - these are the kind of thing I mean. Presumably they were built as refuges for shepherds or sheep and it's amazing that they have survived for probably centuries and are still in use.

They appear to grow out of the landscape, built from the stone beneath them. To me they are the ultimate, minimal geometric structure, like tents and igloos, the simplest form required for a shelter. But also they are sculptures pure and simple with an iconic presence in the landscape.

Shape-wise, this is the Gallo Roman style version of the rough, rustic structures previously. An exquisite shape, elegant but at the same time solid and planted on the earth, the limestone immaculately cut and faced - a huge effort for what was just a piece of civil engineering - it was part of an aquifer and ancient lavoire.

I can only cry .................

See the related post Church Bell Tower Cages


  1. WOW. So beautiful...shepherd's huts, water trough...the last overgrown photo. The hands of man shaping their world centuries ago. Wonderful photos, thanks so much! Trish

  2. the roofs would make great hats for your figurines...

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