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Alumni-led firm invited to exhibit at the 2021 Venice Biennale

Artistic line graph comparing the water levels between New Orleans and Venice

(Image courtesy of NANO: Concept diagram comparing the water levels of New Orleans and Venice, Italy.)

Alumni Terri Hogan Dreyer (A *01) and Ian Dreyer (A *01) and their New Orleans-based firm NANO LLC have been invited to participate in the 2021 TIME SPACE EXISTENCE exhibit, a part of the globally recognized La Biennale de Venezia (Venice Biennale) exhibit.

NANO is one of only a few New Orleans-based architectures firm to have ever been invited to participate in the Venice Biennale TIME SPACE EXISTENCE exhibition. Tulane School of Architecture Professor Cordula Roser Gray's firm crgarchitecture co-organized and participated in the same exhibition two years ago. For this year, NANO plans to be committed to its Louisiana cultural roots while embedding rigor and process in our exhibit’s experience.

La Biennale de Venezia exhibit, organized and hosted by the European Cultural Centre in Venice, is a platform for architects from around the world to visually present their personal thoughts and creations about and within architecture. The topic TIME SPACE EXISTENCE gives the possibility for each architect to focus on these fundamental existential questions, creating an extraordinary combination of projects and approaches. By combining projects from architecture studios with works of architecture, photography, and sculpture, the exhibition becomes a dialogue between current developments, ideas, and thoughts in art and architecture, highlighting the philosophical concepts of Time, Space and Existence.

The exhibit design team includes:

  • Terri Hogan Dreyer (A *01) – Master of Architecture
  • Ian Dreyer (A *01) – Master of Architecture
  • Kristine Kobila (A *01) – Master of Architecture
  • Jacob Smiley (A ’20) – Master of Architecture
  • Ana Rebecca Chu (A ’20) – Master of Architecture
  • Eva Poon (A ’23) – Master of Architecture

The firm is fundraising to help cover the cost of travel, shipping and logistics, exhibit materials, and entry expenses. You can learn more and donate at the GoFundMe Page.

Faculty win 2021 ACSA Architectural Education Awards

Logo of the 2021 Architectural Education Awards

Two faculty at Tulane School of Architecture faculty have won 2021 Architectural Education Awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).

Each year, ACSA honors architectural educators for exemplary work in areas such as building design, community collaborations, scholarship, and service. Award winners inspire and challenge students, contribute to the profession’s knowledge base, and extend their work beyond the borders of academy into practice and the public sector. The winners will be celebrated virtually at the ACSA 109th Annual Meeting on March 24-26, 2021.

Below are this year's recipients from Tulane School of Architecture:

ACSA Distinguished Professor Award: Ken Schwartz, FAIA, is a Professor of Architecture and Director of Tulane’s Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking.

AIA/ACSA Leadership + Practice Award: Emilie Taylor Welty (A ‘06), is a Professor of Practice and Design-Build Manager at the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design. 

For more information and the individual awards, including award packets, visit the ACSA website.

Faculty win international design competition for urban forest in Madrid

Digital perspective rendering of people walking on a elevated walking path through a watery marsh area with a bridge to a stone cliff in the background

Margarita Jover, Associate Professor of Architecture, and Iñaki Alday, Dean of Tulane School of Architecture, recently won an international design competition through their practice aldayjover architecture and landscape. The firm’s proposal has been chosen as the winner of the Madrid Metropolitan Forest International Contest, Lot 4 "The Southern River Parks." 

A jury made up of 24 experts selected aldayjover's proposal, titled "Manantial Sur, Regenerated Infrastructure," for being a "complete project in all its components that has generated debate around the role of water, forestry and agriculture." 

The southern area of Madrid, along the Manzanares River, is a place of infrastructures that have divided the territory; but it is also a space of opportunities and full of latent resources: hydrological, historical, agricultural, horticultural, archaeological and social to be enhanced and to re-sprout.

aldayjover changed the discourse in the relationship between rivers and cities by designing the first floodable public spaces, conceived as hybrid hydraulic infrastructures, at the end of the 90s. In the Manantial Sur (translated to English from Spanish means "South Spring") of the Metropolitan Forest, aldayjover re-conceptualizes the artificial hydrology of the region, complementing the sources of fresh water from the Sierra de Madrid with the new water springs – the wastewater treatment plants. This concept, initially developed for Delhi (Yamuna River Project, with Pankaj Vir Gupta), will generate a new landscape that manages water and nature, creates microclimates, promotes healthy habits and is the backbone of a more equitable and democratic society based on the right to quality public space. 

Manantial Sur is a proposal for social and ecological growth through "resprouts." The social "resprout" recovers pedestrian connectivity and creates civic centralities. The ecological "resprout" promotes the emergence of biodiversity and a large monumental forest based on better use and management of water resources. The "resprout" of mobility infrastructures comes from understanding them as broad ecological corridors that include slow mobility and creates an agro-forestry and social mosaic. 

Developed from a transdisciplinary perspective, aldayjover in collaboration with ABM Consulting, IRBIS ecological consulting, Paisaje Transversal, Benedicto Gestión de Proyectos, BIS structures and fdTOP has led this proposal in Madrid's green belt, which will become the first major metropolitan intervention to mitigate the effects of climate change in the capital of Spain. A Forest that was born attentive to the increasingly pressing social and ecological challenges, using water as a driving force for planning and design.
 

To learn more about the Metropolitan Forest of Madrid competition and its winners, read the article in Metalocus magazine.

To view the aldayjover design proposal video [in Spanish], click here.

Edson Cabalfin named new Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Headshot of Edson Cabalfin

A Message From Iñaki Alday, Dean and Richard Koch Chair in Architecture: 

I am very excited to announce that we continue making important steps in our work toward equity, diversity and inclusion. The number one priority among the forthcoming recommendations from the school's Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (and also signaled by feedback from the school's faculty, staff, and students), was the creation of a dedicated administrative position at the school. After much consideration for this important appointment, I am honored to announce that Edson Cabalfin, PhD, has accepted the position of Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and will begin soon.
 
Among his responsibilities, Edson will mentor BIPOC students at the school and help develop strategies for student support, while also acting as a point of reference for student organizations, staff and faculty concerns and suggestions related to equity, diversity and inclusion. He will work closely with the school's students, faculty and staff to develop strategies in areas of recruitment, support and retention to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the school.
 
Edson is a recent arrival to our school with the benefit of his fresh eyes and an extraordinary background which makes him an excellent candidate to fulfill this new role. As TuSA Director of the Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship program, he will be taking on additional critical responsibilities that also offer promising synergies.
 
"Diversity, equity, and inclusion are urgent issues that need to be addressed in academia, professions, and society at large," Edson said. "I am honored and humbled to work towards contributing positive change in the school and the university."
 
Edson’s research in the last two decades is at the intersection of architecture history and theory, gender and sexuality studies, post-colonial theory, cultural studies, public interest design and heritage conservation. He has been focusing his research and publications particularly on marginalized populations who are often ignored in scholarship such as informal settlers in the city, victims of natural disasters, queer communities, and post-colonial societies.
 
Prior to joining TuSA in August, he was on the faculty at the University of Cincinnati (UC), where he taught for seven years the required freshman course for architecture and interior design students called “Human Dimension of Space” which introduced students to the complexity of space as it relates to behavior, culture, gender and sexuality, race, class, power, politics, among others. More importantly, the course advocated for inclusion, equity, and empathy in the field of architecture and design.
 
As Coordinator of the Interior Design program at UC for four years, he served as liaison with students and administration and often acted as mentor especially to minority students. All throughout his teaching in the last 11 years, he has experience working with and mentoring undergraduate and graduate international students from the Middle East, Asia, and South America.
 
During his tenure at UC, he was the representative of the School of Architecture and Interior Design to the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, where he was involved in developing diversity and inclusion programs for students, staff and faculty across the college. He also led several visioning workshops for the committee which produced new equity and inclusion initiatives for the college.
 
We are following the university's recommendation about the naming of the position as EDI, in order to be inclusive of all aspects of equity and diversity (including gender, class, sexuality, ability, age, etc.), while racial equity, diversity and inclusion continues to be in the forefront of our urgencies.
 
Please join me in thanking Edson for accepting this role in addition to his responsibilities in teaching and as SISE Director!

School launches Singing Oak Tree Design Competition

Large oak tree with cloudy sky above and people sitting under the tree.

Tulane School of Architecture, through the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design, has teamed up with New Orleans City Park to host a design competition to create a dynamic public space within the park.

The public can view the competition entries at the Small Center website.

Held over the 2020-21 Winter Break, teams of Tulane School of Architecture students and/or faculty will utilize a design brief to propose a built occupiable surface around the City Park's beloved Singing Oak Tree. Finalists’ designs will be displayed underneath the tree and online in early 2021 to receive public input. City Park will work with the winning design team towards implementation of the project.

The competition is focused on the Singing Oak's need for a deck to surround it in order to protect its exposed roots. The area of land surrounding the Singing Oak Tree is beautiful, serene, and welcoming, drawing a high volume of park visitors to gather around it. This frequency of usage has caused damage to its roots, in addition to the managed aesthetics of the tree area. The sitting deck proposal is important to the Park’s mission of maintaining and increasing the value and importance of City Park as a place of natural beauty, relaxation, culture, recreation and education for the public. Parks and greenspace are more essential now than ever, providing areas of comfort where visitors can sustain physical and mental health. City Park is providing a space for the community to enjoy the essential elements of nature and recreation.

The deadline for teams to register is midnight on Dec. 15, 2020, and design proposals must be submitted by midnight on Jan. 15, 2021. There will be a public input period from Jan. 15-24, 2021, with the winner announced on Feb. 1, 2021.

More information and specific criteria for proposals can be found in the competition design brief

Alumnus designs memorial for victims of domestic violence

Rendering of a memorial exhibit with three vertical wood panels cut to look like leaves in a courtyard

Honoring victims of domestic violence in the U.S. Virgin Islands is the goal of a memorial installation project designed with help from Tulane School of Architecture alumnus Jonathan Sharp (M.Arch '16).

The Mahogany Tree Project: A Domestic Violence Installation, an M2M Gifts LLC Project 6ix® initiative, aims to construct an advocacy-based installation made of repurposed mahogany trees to memorialize lives lost from domestic violence. In collaboration with nonprofit community partner Family Resource Center (FRC), located in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands (USVI), funds pledged towards the Mahogany Tree Project will be used to construct a mahogany tree-inspired installation in FRC's Serenity Garden: a beautiful courtyard on the organization's property filled with tropical foliage. This installation will memorialize around 80 USVI residents who have lost their lives to domestic violence — (1980-present).  

Sharp worked with fellow Los Angeles-based architect Shanna Whelan, AIA, on the design. Their design of the Mahogany Tree Memorial was inspired by the idea of rebirth; hence the shape of the mahogany seed pod. The installation's form merges feminine and masculine design principles.

“The Mahogany Tree Project was started by a dear friend and inspirational figure from my hometown of Chicago, Jacqueline Ferrer," said Sharp. "When she approached Shanna and I about designing this memorial we embraced the opportunity by weaving the stories of our community partners in the Virgin Islands along with our dedication to the principles of design justice. The sacred space we are creating will be built for and by the USVI community to celebrate the lives tragically lost to domestic violence on the islands.”

Utilizing Kickstarter pledger and community feedback, the memorial will be constructed using storm-damaged, repurposed mahogany wood that has already been secured by the team and is being stored with a local government agency. Currently, the Mahogany Tree Memorial is in conceptual form; however, the team has been working on its predevelopment stages since July. They have arranged meetings with local government agencies, carpenters, licensed architects, engineers and other potential community partners such as high schools, mental health practitioners and local media outlets — laying the groundwork with them; when the time comes to obtain approvals or support, these groups will already be familiar with the Mahogany Tree Project.   In addition to constructing the memorial, funds towards this project will allow the team to carry out a community care package initiative in adherence to USVI's COVID-19 safety precautions. They will curate and assemble meaningful and uplifting gifts for victims' family members using goods as well as services from community-based organizations and local businesses. 

For more information and to donate to the Kickstarter campaign, click here.

Dozens of Tulane alumni, faculty, students honored at AIA New Orleans Design Awards

Digital rendering of an office building next to a small streetcar adjacent to the AIA New Orleans logo

Dozens of alumni, faculty, and students were honored at the New Orleans chapter of the American Institute of Architects 2020 Design Awards Program. 

More than 20 different awards had Tulane School of Architecture affiliations. Two projects, which each won two awards, were created and directed through the school’s design-build programs URBANbuild and the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design. The virtual awards program, hosted by local celebrity Bryan Batt, was organized by a team of AIA members, including Andrew Liles, Adjunct Assistant Lecturer at Tulane School of Architecture.

Each year, the AIA New Orleans chapter celebrates the best of this region’s architecture, recognize achievement in a broad range of architectural work, and inform the public of the breadth and value of architectural practice. 

Below is a listing of the awarded buildings, homes, and projects, including Tulane alumni, faculty and students named in order with which they were announced in the AIA New Orleans awards program. To view the full program recording, click here.


Unbuilt Architecture 
•    Honorable Mention in Unbuilt Architecture: Bayou Community Academy – Gould Evans and Duplantis Design Group, Adjunct Lecturer Jason Butz.  

Divine Detail
•    Honor Award in Divine Detail: Open House – Team A/C, Assistant Professors Carrie Norman and Adam Modesitt, as well as Tulane School of Architecture students and graduates and non-Tulane students Leah Bohatch (A ’23), Rachel Bennett (A ’23), Sara Bhatia (A ’21), Adrian Evans (A *20), Riley Lacalli (A *19), Seth Laskin (A ’23), Willa Richards (daughter of Sam Richards), Seneca Gray (A *20), and Ryan Shabaan (A ’20). 

Interior Architecture
•    Award of Merit in Interior Architecture: Keesler Federal Credit Union – Colectivo, Professor of Practice Emilie Taylor Welty (A *06), Seth Welty (A ’08), Matthew Raybon (A ’17).
•    Honor Award for Interior Architecture: Maison de la Luz – EskewDumezRipple, Max Katz (A ’16). 

Residential Design
•    Honorable Mention in Residential Design: URBANbuild 14 – BILD design LLC, Professor of Practice Byron Mouton and Tulane School of Architecture students and graduates Rene Duplantier (A *19), Keristen Edwards (A ’20, MSRED *20), Kalyn Faller (A *20), Gian-Carol Hernandez-San Martin (A ’20), Nicholas Kallman (A ’19, A ’21), Mateus Klabin (A ’20), Ashley Libys (A *19), William McCollum (A *19, MSRED *19), Katelin Morgan (A *19, MSRED *19), Emmanuel Rotich (A ’19, MSRED *20), Ana Sandoval Aguilar (A ’19), Julia Scholl (A ’20), Wei Xiao (A *19), Yuang Zhao (A *19), Bruna Aoki (A *18), Michelle Barrett (A *19).

Historic Preservation 
•    Award of Merit in Historic Preservation, Restoration, and Adaptive Reuse: Hotel Peter + Paul – studioWTA, Wayne Troyer (A ’83), Tracie Ashe (A ’02), Natan Diacon-Furtado (A *14), Sergio Padilla (A ’03, A *04), Adjunct Lecturer Toni DiMaggio (A ’03), Alyce Deshotels (A *14), Ray Croft (A *14), Elizabeth Simpson (A *12).
•    Honor Award for Historic Preservation, Restoration and Adaptive Reuse: The Schoolhouse – Rome Office, Mollie Burke (A ’11) and Gustavo Rodas (A ’16).

Architecture 
•    Honorable Mention in Architecture – Nora Navra Library – Manning Architects, Dominic Willard (A ’03) and Michelle Carroll-Barr (A *14). 
•    Honorable Mention in Architecture: Groundwork Earth Lab – Tulane's Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design, Assistant Professor Adam Modesitt, Professor of Practice Emilie Taylor Welty (A *06), Adjunct Lecturer Nick Jenisch (A ’03), and Tulane School of Architecture then-students Michelle Barrett (A *19), Kay Curtis (A ’19), Dana Elliot (A *19), Clayton Hakes (A ’19), Jacqueline Esmay (A ’19), Jared Faske (A ’19), Dylan Goldweit-Denton (A ’19), Emily Kanner (A ’19), Bryn E. Koeppel (A ’19), Riley Lacalli (A *19), Caroline LaFleche (A ’19), Collin Moosbrugger (A ’19), Margaret Swinford (A ’19), Max Warshaw (A *19, MSRED *19).
•    Award of Merit for Architecture: Warehouse District Offices – Trapolin-Peer Architects, Peter Trapolin (A ’77).
•    Award of Merit for Architecture: Talise Rainwater Catchment and Filtration System – Elizabeth Chen, Elizabeth Chen (A ’06).
•    Honor Award in Architecture: Sculpture Pavilion – Lee Ledbetter & Associates, Sara Harper (A *17).
•    Honor Award in Architecture: Rouquette Library – VergesRome Architects, APAC, Steven H. Rome (B *17) and Scott Andrews (B ’85). 

People’s Choice
•    People’s Choice Award: URBANbuild 14 – BILD design LLC, Professor of Practice Byron Mouton and Tulane School of Architecture students and graduates (listed in previous award entry).


Excellence in Sustainability
•    USGBC Award for Excellence in Sustainability: Groundwork Earth Lab – Tulane's Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design, Assistant Professor Adam Modesitt, Professor of Practice Emilie Taylor Welty, Adjunct Lecturer Nick Jenisch, and Tulane School of Architecture students and graduates (listed in previous award entry). 
•    USGBC Award for Excellence in Sustainability: Talise Rainwater Catchment and Filtration System – Elizabeth Chen, Elizabeth Chen (A ’06).

Industry
•    Industry Award for Construction: Avenue Family Dentistry – Perrier Esquerre Contractors and Scairono Martinez Architects, Barry Scairono (A ’81)
•    Industry Award for Construction: Higgins Hotel and Conference Center – Palmisano and Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates, Scott Evans (A *98)
•    Industry Award for Landscape: The Standard – Spackman Mossop Michaels and Morris Adjmi Architects, Morris Adjmi (A ’83).

Emerging Professionals
•    EP Associate Award: Bryan Bradshaw (A *17)
•    Young Architect Award: Julie Babin (A ’06)
 
 

Tulane becomes first U.S. institution to sign pledge for climate action

Logo for U.S. Architects Declare Climate, Justice, and Biodiversity Emergency

In September 2020, Tulane School of Architecture became the first U.S. institution to sign on to an international pledge for climate action, followed by two other institutions shortly thereafter.

In the summer of 2020, U.S.-based practices took action and signed on to join the international pledge. With the U.S. Architects Declare movement growing since May and over 284 signatures added to the list, three architecture institutions have signed on to the movement so far, according to an Oct. 7 story in Archinect.

Tulane School of Architecture, Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, and Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture are the first architecture programs to sign on. A movement initially starting in May 2019 in the U.K., firms and studios worldwide have pledged their efforts to fight climate change and biodiversity issues. 

U.S. Architects Declare is led by a group of volunteer architects and designers throughout the country. Their site states, "All built-environment/construction-industry professionals are welcome to join us whether you've signed the declaration or not (including grads, interior designers, students, engineers, building-designers, builders, engineers, etc.)"

Despite 2020 being an extremely challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the social and political unrest happening across the country, architecture institutions have branched out to propel their efforts towards fighting climate change.

Learn more at us.architectsdeclare.com.

Faculty, alumni win several AIA Louisiana Honor Awards

Front view of a five-story apartment building at night time

Several faculty, alumni and friends of Tulane School of Architecture are among the recipients for the newly announced AIA Louisiana Honor Awards 2020. Of the 10 awarded projects, 7 projects name individuals with ties to Tulane School of Architecture, including 2 awards for Emilie Taylor Welty, Favrot II Professor of Practice and Design/Build Manager at the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design. 

The Architecture Honor Awards program recognizes achievements for a broad range of architectural activity in order to elevate the general quality of architectural practice, to establish a standard of excellence against which all architects can measure performance, and to inform the public expectations for architectural practice, its breadth, and its value.

Below are the Tulane-affiliated projects, according to the AIA Louisiana Honor Awards list and Tulane alumni relations office records.

Sculpture Garden Pavilion        
Sara Harper, A *17    
        
Royal Street Residence        
Alexander Adamick, TC '05    
Alex Barthel, A *17    
        
Arthur Ashe Oak Park Edible Schoolyard        
Seth Welty, A '08    
Emilie Taylor Welty, A *06, Favrot II Professor of Practice    
Sarah Satterlee, A *14    
        
Dorgenois Residence        
Seth Welty, A '08    
Emilie Taylor Welty, A *06, Favrot II Professor of Practice
Andy O'Brien, A '21  
        
Thaden School Master Plan        
Christian Rodriguez, AIA, A '10    
        
The Historic New Orleans Collection Seignouret-Brulatour House and Tricentennial Wing
F. Macnaughton Ball, Jr., Former Advisory Board Member    
Dennis Horchoff, E '75    
Brian Swanner, A '92    
Charles Sterkx, A '88    
Steve Scollo, A '97    
Emily Hayden Palumbo, A '05    
Kate Peaden, A '11    
Jerry Blanchard, A *06    
        
The Garage (pictured above)        
Marcel Wisznia, AIA, A '73, Advisory Board Member
Daniel Weiner, AIA, A '90    
Michael Whitehead, TC '06, A *09    
Ralph Bradshaw, AIA, A '67    
Simcha Ward, AIA, A '11, Alumni Council Member/Chair, Advisory Board Member
M. Haynes Johnston, A *19    
Randy Hutchison, A '97    
Cameron Richard, AIA, A *03, Former Advisory Board Member
William Tyler Sandlass, AIA, A *09    
Sam Levin, A '12    
Chris Daemmrich, A '17, Alumni Council Member
Keely Williams, A '08, A *09    
Kelly Calhoun, A *17, Alumni Council Member
Bonnie Mitchell, A '99    
Staci Rosenberg, NC '80, L *83, B *84    
Allison Schiller, A *12    

Read the full awards program here.

Architecture graduate student pens Places Journal essay on historic Murs à Pêches orchards

A man standing in an overgrown urban garden and peach orchard

Tulane architecture graduate student Théa Spring recently completed the inaugural Places Journal Summer Writing + Editing Workshop. Spring was one of 26 students to participate in an immersive Zoom-based course taught by Places editors this summer and included lectures, group discussions, one-on-one coaching and peer-to-peer exchange. During the session and afterwards, students worked closely with the editors to hone their writing skills in the realm of rigorous and accessible public scholarship, and each produced a brief essay on the theme of “Architecture, Urbanism, Pandemics.”

Spring's essay, titled "Coloring the Murs á Pêches," explores the history of the Murs à Pêches, a once vast peach orchard in Montreuil, Paris, France. Beginning with its origins in 1916 to present day August 2020, the orchard has had significant cultural, economic, and spatial influences on the neighborhood and city, as well as efforts to restore the area. Spring also researched the history of Fruits Défendus Association, part of the Fédération MAP, a group of organizations that joined forces in 1994 to defend the Murs à Pêches from the encroachment of concrete. Today, 30 of the orchard's 300 hectares remain, with only eight-and-a-half hectares protected as horticultural landscape heritage.

"Some of the most fascinating parts of the workshop took place during discussions on the importance of public scholarship, particularly in the realm of architecture, landscape, and urbanism," Spring said. "In contrast and complement to academic writing, public scholarship such as the works published by Places Journal are always accessible to be read by anyone, regardless of their field and budget (its entire archive is free to explore). I find this to be a very important and pertinent standard in a discipline flooded with a rather limited vocabulary that is often disconnected to human experience. The quote in my article by the French writer Georges Perec is perhaps a wink to that: he has described spaces with few words in a way most graphics never could."

Spring said two elements drove her to write this piece: the reader could be anyone and there will only be a reader, or another potential individual to discuss with if the writing inspires it.

"I hope to continue clarifying my position through writing... at least until the day I manage to build something that speaks for itself (though realistically, such an event would probably require... more writing)," Spring said. 

Below is an excerpt from "Coloring the Murs á Pêches" by Théa Spring in Places Journal.

...

From above, long rectangular lots striate the landscape. Their origins date to the mid 17th century, when the use of walls as an agricultural tool was first developed.1 Their materials were available on site: rock, clay, and gypsum, more commonly known as plaster of Paris. Built up to an elevation of three meters, the longer edges of the lot were positioned north to south and spaced about twelve meters apart to receive maximum sun exposure. By shielding winds and stocking heat, the plots between these walls enjoyed a microclimate eight to ten degrees Celsius warmer than the surrounding area. First used to grow grapes, they soon welcomed an exotic fruit adored in royal courts and until then only cultivated in the south of France: "la pêche," the peach.

The land was productive, but also experimental. As Parisian demand for fruits and vegetables increased, a complex system was developed by the Montreuillois combining horticulture, viticulture, and arboriculture. By selling their goods directly in central markets, producers were able to use buying trends to inform the development of new methods and varieties. Peaches, sold profitably to the bourgeoisie, often became the subject of and fuel for such inventions. Their high maintenance was anthropomorphized; trees were “dressed” and “refreshed,” fruits were “cleaned” of their fuzz with a novel rotating brush, and even protected with revolvers set to detonate against garden intruders through a system of strings. Like secret lovers, new varieties were given erotic names such as "Le Téton de Vénus," the Nipple of Venus, or "La Grosse Mignonne," the Fat Cutie. By the end of the 18th century, the area of the Murs à Pêches reached its apogee with over 300 hectares of walled lots — one-third of Montreuil.

...

Read more about the inaugural Places Journal Summer Writing + Editing Workshop.

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