1519–2019: Chambord, a Work in Progress

The Château de Chambord was a mammoth project that was avant-garde from its very inception. Despite being unfinished at the time its sponsor passed away, a wonderful utopia would still emerge. Touched by the avant-garde genius of Leonardo da Vinci, the château represents the ultimate playground for dreaming up futuristic architectural developments.

Monuments historiques internationaux face à la montée des eaux (2018/2019) by Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de BarcelonaThe Château of Chambord

It has been 500 years since building work began on the Château de Chambord and it continues to fascinate and inspire truly innovative research. The Château de Chambord and the Dominique Perrault Architecture agency have rekindled the notion of utopia by challenging architectural laboratories from universities around the world to submit ideas for a "modernized" Château that responds to the challenges of the contemporary world. Each of the 18 labs that accepted the challenge went on to present their own version of Chambord in the third millennium, mixing history and heritage with technological and architectural innovation. The projects took ideas around society and ecology as inspiration, alongside a desire to bring heritage to life.

2020 : L’Autre. Faire trois kilomètres à pied dans la peau d’une autre femme (2018/2019) by Mackintosh School of Architecture / The Glasgow School of ArtThe Château of Chambord

A Work in Progress – Glasgow (Mackintosh School of Architecture / The Glasgow School of Art)

Turning an historical monument into a museum, although it protects heritage, can often have the effect of freezing it into a single, unchanging state. For the Glasgow School of Fine Art, a monument like the Château de Chambord that has continuously evolved over the course of its history can continue to do so through collaboration between its owners and visitors.
So, the architectural students from Glasgow aren't proposing a single utopia, but rather 10 utopias, one a year for a decade. It would start with a "feminist" theme in 2020 then, in turn, ecological, anti-consumerist, recreational, museum, and so on. Through this constant change, the château remains "a work in progress."

For a decade, Chambord would be like a theater stage.
However, with no actors. Each visitor will be the exhibit, actor and, subject.The result would be hundreds of utopias. Matija Klaric.

Based on the idea that today's society is, and that of the Renaissance was, essentially patriarchal, three female architecture students proposed that in 2020 visitors literally put themselves in the shoes of another woman for the duration of their visit. To enter the château grounds, visitors must pass beneath a giant red stiletto where they will be given a pair of red high heels to wear during their visit.

2027 : Réserve. Se promener avec les loups, adopter un habitat (2018/2019) by Mackintosh School of Architecture / The Glasgow School of ArtThe Château of Chambord

2027: Reserve. Walking with Wolves, Adopting a Habitat.
- Mackintosh School of Architecture / The Glasgow School of Art.

In 2027, as bulldozers approach to begin construction of new homes in the name of urban growth, the magnificent rooms and courtyard at Chambord will become a sanctuary for an endangered ecosystem.

Habiter le patrimoine (2018/2019) by Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de BarcelonaThe Château of Chambord

Occupying Heritage—ETSAB (ETSAB, Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona)

Within a few decades, global warming will have caused numerous environmental changes and natural catastrophes. This prize-winning project from ETSAB (out of the 32 submitted) sees the château altered into a refuge from the rising waters, a type of ideal city where a new society could be built. The château, according to a model in cross section, could become the base for a town on high. Chambord resumes its role as residence in this architectural proposal.
To create a sustainable system, the infrastructure follows a cyclical rhythm. It is self-sufficient in terms of the production of electricity and food, and the harvesting of rainwater.

Monuments historiques internationaux face à la montée des eaux (2018/2019) by Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de BarcelonaThe Château of Chambord

Faced with natural catastrophes, heritage buildings are requisitioned to offer a refuge where new societies can be created. The Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, the Sagrada Familia, and the Château de Chambord are among these monuments.

Whole Future (2018/2019) by School of the Art Institute of ChicagoThe Château of Chambord

Realizing Chambord – Chicago (School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

The digital future imagined in this project looks to celebrate the château as an engine of discovery, a type of thought academy. Along with the experience enhancers given to the château visitors, other approaches are put in place to examine its past and digitize the building. After having reigned over hunting grounds on a royal estate, the building will now reign on the virtual and cosmic networks as a vessel of global communication and universal intelligence.

Fragment (2018/2019) by School of the Art Institute of ChicagoThe Château of Chambord

By considering the Whole and its Parts, the architectural fragments that make up the château, the project highlights the exceptional quality of the building. The influence of da Vinci is seen in the château through a fascination with circular movement and with the central staircase, an allegory on the abstract becoming concrete.

Espaces publics : serres, cuisine, hammam (2018/2019) by MEF FADA DesignLAB, IstanbulThe Château of Chambord

Filling in the Gaps – Istanbul (MEF FADA DesignLAB)

The wall surrounding the keep at Chambord remains unfinished above the first level. The architectural lab in Istanbul is exploring the idea of developing the existing shape into how it would have looked had it been finished. To achieve this, a 3D structure would be erected on the base of the enclosing wall. It would be made from vertical fibers that rise up to create the shape of the original building. Within this forest of fibers, nestle "chalets" to welcome residents. These are linked by a network of walkways and stairways. The habitat is designed to be lived in by artists and researchers from different disciplines and also features various communal spaces, like the kitchen and steam room.

Espaces de circulation (2018/2019) by MEF FADA DesignLAB, IstanbulThe Château of Chambord

Through a call for projects, potential residents (all activities together) have free rein to imagine how to occupy the spaces that greet them and turn them into their ideal location. The place they have imagined is transformed into a real architectural space.

Le fort de Bonne-Espérance le long de la Loire (2018/2019) by University of Cape Town, Le CapThe Château of Chambord

An African Château Imagined – Le Cap (University of Cape Town)

Built by the Dutch East India Company, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest remaining colonial structure in South Africa. It perpetuates the memory of colonial utopia, dreamt up by and for the colonists. In this collage, the castle is transplanted to the banks of the Loire River, to sit on the site of the château.

he students were inspired by memories of the colonial age, as well as the architectural relics left on South African soil. Superimposing the Castle of Good Hope, a fort built by colonists in Cape Town, onto the site of the Château de Chambord allows new ideas to emerge around the concepts of château and fort. The project presents the Château de Chambord as both a national and political structure built on a cadastral system of values, i.e., the domination of the feudal property system that characterized colonial Africa for generations. Architectural utopia becomes a social expression. Through découpage, collage, and additions, stories about local landscapes, access, borders, women, slavery, resources, etc., that have been previously disappeared, or been hidden and ignored, can re-emerge.

Transplantation (2018/2019) by University of Cape Town, Le CapThe Château of Chambord

Transplanting the Château de Chambord to the location of the Castle of Good Hope represents a confrontation between the old world—the world of both Chambord and Good Hope—and modern day Cape Town, which was designed as a democratic space.

République de Play-Doh (2018) by Lisa Liang, Tian Hui WenThe Château of Chambord

Unfinished – Los Angeles (SCI-Arc)

It is thought that nowadays utopias are no longer subject to the laws of unity, geometric proportion, capital, or bureaucracy but rather to the invisible force of social participation. As a result, the students from Los Angeles concluded that utopia doesn't require virgin territory but simply a situation to which one can adapt. They submitted several programs that explore how to extend the "Chambord" utopia.. Transformed in turn into an all-purpose château-supermarket, an archive for digital data, a theme park, and a power plant providing green energy, Chambord becomes a response to the needs of society.

Datascape Utopia (2018/2019) by Mariya Bandrivska et Mahyar Naghshvar, SCI-Arc, Los AngelesThe Château of Chambord

During World War II, the Château de Chambord became a safe house for numerous works of art that had to be removed from the Paris museums to avoid the bombings. The data storage project was designed as a kind of universal memory that digitizes, archives, and catalogs cultural and artistic data from around the globe and sees the château reprise its role as a place of welcome.

Chambord insulaire (2018/2019) by Melbourne School of Design – University of MelbourneThe Château of Chambord

Future Nostalgia – Melbourne (Melbourne School of Design – University of Melbourne)

In the near future, Chambord has been flooded and a dam has been built in an attempt to restore ecological equilibrium and, above all, to ensure regular water and hydroelectricity. The chateau is now surrounded by water. Specific areas have been walled off, particularly parts of the garden around the chateau. Ancient utopian or arcadian sites that have been excavated are preserved. Nearby, new utopian micro-towns are linked to one another by an underwater road network, like a "series of worlds."

Archipel d’utopie (2018/2019) by Melbourne School of Design – University of MelbourneThe Château of Chambord

Although Sir Thomas More's Utopia was an island comprised of identical towns, these island utopias offer different realities.

From Water and Light by Escuela de Architectura de la Universidad Anáhuac, MexicoThe Château of Chambord

The Fading Threshold of the Incomplete– Mexico (Escuela de Architectura de la Universidad Anáhuac)

The project has three main levels. At ground level, the water covers the main courtyard and flows continuously in and out of the castle, evoking da Vinci's ideas for the lakeside city of Romorantin. A diagonal access ramp is in place to allow visitors to access the basement of the southwest tower from the courtyard and is an intermediary space where the visitor can experience both darkness and light, reflected in the water. Here, a spiral path provides a further vertical intermediary space leading to the upper level. It is a space filled with thousands of lamps, free-standing and suspended above visitors heads, creating an open interior space around which people can walk.

From Water and Light by Escuela de Architectura de la Universidad Anáhuac, MexicoThe Château of Chambord

Thousands of steel and fiberglass poles line are erected along the surrounding wall at Chambord, recalling the original outline of the château with its two southern towers. By day the netting is subtle and barely visible but by night, thanks to an LED lighting system, the silhouette of the chateau appears like a renewed and enlarged monument.

Aire de travail (2018/2019) by École nationale supérieure d’architecture, NancyThe Château of Chambord

#TwinC – Nancy (École nationale supérieure d’architecture)

The windmill sails design at Chambord is likely to have been inspired by Leonardo da Vinci and the research he did into perpetual movement, as was the château's double staircase. So, why not consider the possibility that the château's original architects planned a staircase with four flights of stairs, each leading to a corner of the keep? The students from Nancy took up the challenge to build this imaginary staircase designed by the Italian genius. However, to free up space and insert the two missing flights, it was necessary to stretch the stairway on a vertical axis until it was double its original height, like a stretched out spring. The space created by the extra height allowed a productive and technological ecosystem to be installed.

Le donjon dans le ciel (2018/2019) by École nationale supérieure d’architecture, NancyThe Château of Chambord

In order to build a utopia that is open to all, the popular Minecraft, architecture game "par excellence," was chosen to model #TwinC. The château in the sky, autonomous and clear of its immediate environment, is reminiscent of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's universe

Le restaurant La Salamandre (2018/2019) by École Boulle, ParisThe Château of Chambord

Living at Chambord– Paris (École Boulle)

2030: The increase in climate catastrophes leads to the creation of a European plan to welcome refugees into heritage buildings that are not lived in. The Château de Chambord is one of the requisitioned buildings. Depending on their circumstances, refugees are offered one of three types of accommodation, "Tempscourts" (Short term: urgent accommodation for a few days), "Tempsmédians" (Medium term: housing for a few months), and "Tempslongs" (Long term: where you can stay for a several years.) From being uninhabited, Chambord becomes a veritable city that can able to offer sanctuary to up to 450 individuals, thus achieving utopia. The resources on the estate are able to support the needs via operations that have a low ecological impact.

Foyer des Tempslongs (2018/2019) by École Boulle, ParisThe Château of Chambord

Outre les espaces privés (petites chambres, etc.), de nombreux espaces collectifs sont aménagés pour les résidents : bains et cuisines, foyer, forum... La vie en communauté et les interactions entre résidents constituent le fondement de cette nouvelle société. Les résidents de longue durée sont également appelés à participer activement à la vie du château et du parc : restauration, entretien, recherche botanique, etc.

The last city (2018/2019) by Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do PortoThe Château of Chambord

Chambord 2519 – Porto (Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto)

The project from the School of Architecture in Porto considers the next 500 years and the natural catastrophes that could unfold during this time. The conclusion reached by this team is ambitious. It would be necessary to build a global town with geometric proportions inspired by those of the Château de Chambord, and which would have the necessary equipment to face the environmental problems of the future. This autonomous city, a "self-sufficient ecological megacity-machine," would be a floating, wandering ocean city, devoid of geographical boundaries, collecting waste from the planet and transforming it into building materials.

Expansion (2018/2019) by Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do PortoThe Château of Chambord

Built in the 16th century as a private residence, the Château de Chambord is destined to grow to become a global megacity.

Acte I: Anti-Utopie. Un nouveau territoire (2018/2019) by Facoltà di architettura – Sapienza Università di RomaThe Château of Chambord

A Theatrical Event in Three Acts: Space, Time, and Labyrinth – Rome (Facoltà di architettura – Sapienza Università di Roma)

Similar to the Glasgow students, the students from Rome students saw as a 16th century "open work" that is continually evolving. There is no fixed route around the château and the visitors move around by choosing from moving paths that are constantly being created. By moving through time and space, each visitor will autonomously build their own monument in their mind, what has been, what could have been, and what will be. The château is under permanent construction, the park and the gardens constantly evolve, as well as a new underground territory, all these form the basis of this spatial, temporal utopia.

Épilogue : espace, temps, labyrinthe (2018/2019) by Facoltà di architettura – Sapienza Università di RomaThe Château of Chambord

This collage shows the three spaces the project created and changed: the park, château, and the underground world.

Marché temporaire modulable (2018/2019) by Seoul National University – Department of Architecteringure and Architectural EngineThe Château of Chambord

Utopian Palimpsest: Defining the edges to find the center – Séoul (Seoul National University – Department of Architecture and Architectural Engineering)

The four facades of the keep at Chambord are practically identical. So, an interesting question would be "Does the Château de Chambord have a "main" facade?" With this question as a starting point, the Seoul project creates four areas of development for the future Château de Chambord, including Business, Production, Spectacle, and Nature. The different successive functions that the château and the park may have had are the basis for this utopia. So, the western quadrant is renovated as an area of production; the north quadrant is used for performances and activities; in the East, priority is given to natural habitats and conservation of species; to the south, stands that can be disassembled allow for pop-up events such as flea markets.

Vue aérienne (2018/2019) by Seoul National University – Department of Architecture and Architectural EngineeringThe Château of Chambord

The Korean project proposes to leave the monument itself untouched and to change the area directly around the château. These areas were often changed in a disorderly fashion by successive owners. Evolving or regressing, the area transforms from a natural state to a meticulous and ordered arrangement, from productive to decorative, from a closed to an open space. The changes, however, will be governed by one of four roles they will have taken on.

Onze personnages (2018/2019) by I-AUD Meiji University, TokyoThe Château of Chambord

Eleven Characters in Search of an Author – Tokyo (I-AUD Meiji University)

The students from Tokyo turn to literature. For them, it is a case of seeing Chambord as a phenomenon, not an architectural object but as a place where experiences converge, a theater stage. Inspired by the authors Luigi Pirandello ("Six Characters in Search of an Author") and Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, they present timeless characters, moving through the entire chateau. The Château de Chambord does not exist without them, and they do not exist without the Château de Chambord. Each of its creators, its occupants (royal or otherwise), and its visitors (famous or otherwise) have experienced and created their own Chambord.

Le XXXème siècle : le cervidé (2018/2019) by I-AUD Meiji University, TokyoThe Château of Chambord

A series of sketches performed at Chambord, each with its own characters and temporality. After centuries of rule by kings and visitors, nature rightfully reclaims Chambord in the 30th century. Human habitation is given over to the deer and the forest.

Vue depuis les terrasses du château (2018/2019) by École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture, VersaillesThe Château of Chambord

Five Operations on One Estate – Versailles (École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture)

Chambord is more than just a château, it is an estate that has been painstakingly crafted since the 16th century. The starting point for the completion project proposed by the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture (National School of Architecture) is to explore possible activities that could happen on the estate. To the East there is a data center; to the North, a garden that runs down to the Loire River; to the West, a dam across the Cosson River and a reservoir to provide self-sufficient energy to the estate; along the length of the wall around the park enclosure are a series of thresholds; to the South, managed plots are put in to create a local climate.

Point de vue dans le parc (2018/2019) by École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture, VersaillesThe Château of Chambord

Le château escamoté (2018/2019) by Technische Universität WienThe Château of Chambord

Rising and Setting – Vienne (Technische Universität Wien)

The work from Vienna University of Technology explores temporality: a new calendar particular to Chambord. Two different calendars will define, in turn, the four seasons particular to Chambord: the spring and the autumn will look to the French Revolutionary calendar that gives each day of the seasons a particular name and, consequently, their own particular identity. Winter and summer conform to the Egyptian Calendar and thus bring floods and winter fog to the château. Summers bring intense solar activity, so are exceptionally bright. Altering the number of hours in a day creates an interesting change in the days at the château, as there are more dawns in a Chambord day than elsewhere.

Irradiation (2018/2019) by Technische Universität WienThe Château of Chambord

Throughout the new year, special event days known as "Sans-culottides" will run at Chambord. These special days will take over (and erase) some of the rooms in the château, emphasizing its unfinished state. Brilliant light projections make the château walls glow.

Espace d’habitation, espace de circulation (2018/2019) by Rice School of Architecture-Paris, HoustonThe Château of Chambord

After the Flood – Houston (Rice School of Architecture-Paris)

Utopia achieved after the flood transforms the château into a symbol of a future of resilience and adaptation, rather than a relic of a monarchical past. To prevent the building from being swallowed up, water is diverted from the château and re-directed towards the River Cosson. A low dam directs the natural run-off downstream from the castle. The dam works as a simple retaining wall designed to withstand water. At well over half a mile long, it is an important part of the operation and forms a habitable space. The project provides the Château de Chambord with efficient protection from floods, while preserving the existing ecosystem of the estate, i.e., the flora and fauna that have thrived there for 500 years.

Vue aérienne (2018/2019) by Rice School of Architecture-Paris, HoustonThe Château of Chambord

Seen from the château, the dam is a thin line crossing the horizon. An abstract landscape is reflected in the glass. It blends into the landscape while preserving the monument and its surroundings.

Chambord englouti (2018/2019) by American University of Sharjah – College of Architecture, Art and Design – Architecture DepartmentThe Château of Chambord

Ecotopos – Sharjah (American University of Sharjah – College of Architecture, Art and Design – Architecture Department)

Utopian ideas emerge as a reaction to dystopian problems. In a new catastrophic scenario, where terrible floods threaten humanity and throw the environment around the Château de Chambord into turmoil, this project demonstrates the capacity of humankind to adapt and come together in a post-apocalyptic society. As the waters rise, humans, unable to live underwater, take refuge high up in the towers. Based on the idea that what remains fixed is doomed to failure, the inhabited towers are under constant construction, in particular being adapted to hostile environmental forces.

Les tours de Chambord (2018/2019) by American University of Sharjah – College of Architecture, Art and Design – Architecture DepartmentThe Château of Chambord

République de Play-Doh (2018/2019) by Lisa Liang et Tian Hui Wen, SCI-Arc, Los AngelesThe Château of Chambord

For centuries, the concept of utopia has been the perfect excuse for architects to play with new shapes and ideas. The artist has total freedom, which is the best possible laboratory one could hope for in terms of architectural creation. As a Renaissance ideal city, Chambord, from its very beginnings has looked to a new, modern, and equal society. This is a vocation that the estate may well reprise in the future.
Five-hundred years after the death of da Vinci, the man likely to be behind the original design of the Château de Chambord and its monumental staircase, these projects are a homage to his visionary genius.

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