Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘I.M. Pei’

A fortress city

Luxembourg is a fortified place. It sits at the confluence of two rivers, each of which sits in a deep valley. The natural defences have been significantly enhanced over time, producing a devilishly complex of bastions, demi-lunes and counterguards.

On our way to the stupendous MUDAM, we spent the morning walking up and down the various fortifications which remain. We spent a long time trying to trace the trace italienne, to untangle each historical layer.

What we really needed were some maps.

Of course, this is always easier from the comfort of your living room, but it is also a lot of fun to trace our walk on the maps, and to see how things developed over time, for this fortress city, which itself evokes the epitome of fortifications, Valetta and Gibraltar. From a Roman watchtower, to a Holy Roman castle, the walls started springing up in earnest around the early 16th century.

Over time, as the city was traded, captured, recaptured and the defences strengthened, undermined and bombarded, thee result was staggering.

Of course, the needs of a modern financial and bureaucratic hub are different, and most of the defences have been demolished, or, as in the breathtaking development of I.M. Pei’s MUDAM (of which CIA has written about eloquently and at length), converted into something new. But the remains are all impressive.

We loved walking around the old walls, and it’s always amazing thinking about the interactions between landscape, people, and history. It is important not to take the connections implicit in a place for granted, and all the more important to share the connections you find.


Photos by CIA and PJD, Luxembourg, Easter, 2012.

Maps were borrowed from, with thanks to:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge

At first, this week’s photo challenge seemed rather tricky. But with deeper reflection, and a number of conversations travelling to and from Utrecht, CIA and I settled on some photos from the Louvre. It’s been a week heavy with posts about Museums, so hopefully this will not push all you readers over the edge, but here are three efforts at finding a merge in the photographic world – without utilising photoshop™.

Architecture into Art; Art into Architecture

I.M Pei has already been congratulated once in this blog, for his Magnificent MUDAM. And we have MUDAM to thank for introducing us to the glorious work of Wim Delvoye. In this case, we get the interaction of Pei’s architecture-as-art Pyramid in the Louvre, and Delvoye’s art-as-achitecture beautiful, refined twisted gothic tower pointing straight at the pinnacle of the pyramid. The ominous Parisian sky above adds a sense of foreboding to the image.

Art, History, Literature – accident or intention?

When I saw this piece, I immediately thought of Animal Farm, I don’t know at all if Delvoye meant to evoke the novel, but that novel’s excoriating exposition of the perils of totalitarianism certainly would seem to align with the artist’s dislike of establishment. Additionally, this was the Napoleon Apartments, and so:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

The Louvre, literary references, the weight of history. What more could anyone want?

Architecture and the epitome of modern consumer design

So, an inverted pyramid (thank you again Mr Pei), and in the background, an Apple™ store. What else? There’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?


Photos by CIA and PJD, le Louvre, Paris, June 2012 (Merged).

The power of good architecture: entranced and enchanted at Mudam, Part 2

As I wrote about a couple of days ago, Mudam, Luxembourg’s contemporary art museum, is an architectural gem. I promised to take you inside the building, so you can see for yourself whether the building on the inside stacks up to how it looks outside.

The materials on show on the outside flow through to inside, making for gallery spaces that are in many instances beautifully lit by natural light which spills in through the large panes of glass in the roof and widows. The Grand Hall greets you soon after arrival. It is breathtaking in scale and structure, and serves as the main hub of the building, with other galleries leading off on either side and at different levels. Without a doubt, the moment I glimpsed the Grand Hall, I knew that we were in for something special.

Read more

The power of good architecture: entranced and enchanted at Mudam

It’s not very often that you come across a building that really makes you stand up straight and take notice, and which really captures your heart and imagination. When we visited Mudam – the first and magnificent contemporary art museum in the tiny nation of Luxembourg, we experienced one of these rare instances of architectural delight.

As previously shown on, Mudam was a place that really did delight us and made us very happy. One of the first things that struck us about this building – designed by Ieoh Ming (I.M.) Pei (perhaps his most well known architectural creations being the Louvre glass pyramids in Paris) was the way in which the new building was integrated into the ramparts of the ancient fortifications which are still standing on the site. Initially when we approached Mudam we wondered if the old and new meshed together as a whole, but as we got to know the building better, we quickly saw that this was far from the case, and instead that this was a building epitomised by a sense of true balance and harmony. Read more

Staircases of Le Louvre

Have you been to the Musee du Louvre? It’s in the Palais du Louvre and is one of the world’s largest museums, housing a vast collection in its sprawling Richelieu, Denon and Sully wings. Perhaps you know the sight of I.M. Pei’s striking pyramid additions (one outside, and one inverted, inside). Here’s the Cour Napoleon, with the pyramid in the middle. I sneaked this photo through an upper window while we were inside the Louvre. I like the ant-like people far below, and the symmetry of Pei’s modern architecture against that of the renaissance style of the old building.

Needless to say, it was exciting to see the beauty of Pei’s work again, after we had loved his MUDAM building so much (we will return to write more about that amazing place again soon!). Inside the Louvre though, the sheer number of staircases in the building’s interior, and the variations in style struck me as quite something, so I took a few pictures of these interesting escalier.

Some are classical in style, as one would expect in such a building (as above), but some are modern, and the contrast is stark, even if the materials used have been chosen to stay in keeping with the rest of the building:

Read more

%d bloggers like this: