Le Petit Trianon And Why Architecture DOES Matter!

by Teréza Eliasz-Solomon (HeiressMommy™)

Un endroit tres special … toi seul –  For Queen Marie Antoinette that was Le Petit Trianon and for others no more than a small room or alcove. No matter the style, location or size a special place that one can call their own seems as important to happiness as love. It seems that the French Queen was in that sense very much the same as anyone else in needing and seeking that sort of  joy and security. In that pursuit she embraced and redesigned extensively the Versailles addition that was originally designed as a gift for Louis XV’s maitresse-en-titre, Madame de Pompadour, who died before its completion and so it was subsequently given to her successor, the most famous French mistress, Madame du Barry. It was the  following French King, Louis XVI who gave Le Petit Trianon to his teenage Queen whose legacy has been defined by both truths and misrepresentations. In fact, Le Petit Trianon was criticized by her French peers as being too foreign – often being called “Little Vienna” or “Little Schonbrunn” – a reference to her powerful mother, the only female ruler of the Hapsburg dynasty, Maria Theresia‘s palace – where Marie Antoinette herself was born. As history informs us, Marie Antoinette was both loved and despised during her life – thus finding both a place for celebration and solace in her beloved  Petit Trianon. [By the way, during my visits to France I visited all of Versailles – including Petit Trianon and more … I will detail this and more of my travels, including photos,  in upcoming blog posts and my now REALLY soon book: Heiress Mommy … A Modern Super Woman Life!].  There are American Castles – places of grandeur designed as testimony to great wealth achieved mostly during America’s Gilded Age – I have visited many, including Newport’s famed The Breakers and Vizcaya in Miami. For myself, it began with my own childhood playroom and later a study that was my singular separate space and then of course as an adult my own homes provided more special areas I considered important – a gym, a garden or private dressing area. My husband and I recently have become able to look forward to being multi residential  – both of us are thrilled and full of wonderful anticipation at the prospect of working with architects and designers to create special unique spaces for each of us and our children. In each life – no matter where in this world – there is a necessitous impetus to create or find that area where comfort,  security and peace can be experienced. The task at hand has been and is ever more to make public and private places that every citizen has access to in order to achieve a balanced life to whatever extent possible.

I often reference all my parents taught and gave me in my blog posts – again, I must acknowledge their teaching that one should take full advantage of public spaces – making an effort to see and experience museums, parks, public libraries and all venues available wherever one lives or visits. I too want my children to make a conscious effort to seek out places of both grandeur and simplicity. For some there is no personal directive toward this lesson but it none the less should be, if not intrinsically known, then taught via public service outreach and/or through education [in schools, etc.]. We must provide public spaces – which serve as social gathering places. Throughout history into current modernity there have been parks, town centers and squares that afforded populations a place to congregate and more – often serving as markets, meeting venues and places of both worship and justice [or lack there of] and  punishment. The suburbs, unlike cities have not provided many gathering public or communal spaces … grant it quite a few are near parks but the very act of needing to drive for access denies the basic intent – that is to dwell freely in a shared area with neighbors or simply to easily seek solitary refuge. Rural areas provide, while not as plentiful as cities, meeting places on account of the basic need to join with others in common spaces – living far apart almost demands a town hall, a fairground or place of worship to gather. Of course, city, suburb or farm/ranch the new town square is social media – while to some extent a place of shared experience or reprieve from others, the internet is not architecture and therefore provides nothing to soothe the soul or attend to our other senses. Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention that my husband and I take great advantage of the internet in pursuit of homes, vacations, design, etc. – there is without a doubt the most amazing access to all the world’s beauty, art and architecture via the internet. The problem lies in that being the only and singular outlet for some – whether by choice or circumstance. To never walk through a museum, sit in a public park, stroll around a town square or trek through a national preserve is to be denied a human basic experience – the outdoors and the interior places created by joined human effort are equally important venues that are almost a biological imperative to sustain life. We have seen people flock to common spaces for triumph celebrations like national holidays and also to share in tragedies like 9/11 – this need appears to be intrinsic and almost part of our DNA. Vigilance must be maintained to how and why and where architecture can make a difference in all lives.

For some time it has been an accepted fact that hospital design affects a patient’s health – not just the obvious cleanliness and well placed equipment/safety consideration but also the colors, furniture styles and art placement can contribute to or detract from the overall outcome of an individual’s hospital stay. There are also the staff and families and friends visiting that can benefit from the architecture of a medical center. Another important  architecture issue is schools – studies have shown that learning is more easily done in well designed areas and less strife and disruption among students is noted when a school is not only efficiently laid out but is attractive and in tune with all the senses. Teachers are equally affected and have expressed an ability to demonstrate more patience and energy in their dealings with students when the building/their work place is attractive and healthy.  Sadly, public schools are falling victim, like most municipality financed venues, to budget cuts these days – penny wise and dollar foolish for sure as how and where our children learn is paramount to a successful future., Why should only those of us whose children can financially afford private school have a learning atmosphere that promotes achievement? Yes, it is true – as I am so often reminded by skeptics – that in the “old days” many of our most prominent U.S. and world citizens schooled in less than attractive buildings [to say the least]. As my wise Mother was fond of stating – there were no really “good old days” just old days gone by … those much championed and incorrectly remembered halcyon days were also full of segregated and bland places of public education. Granted some students rose above and achieved greatness – most probably [as is often cited in memoirs and biographies] on account of family, clergy or a special teacher or maybe even something uniquely internal gave that person an advantage despite the surroundings where they went to school. Today is different and it is imperative that everything possible be done to architecturally design places of learning that are stimulating, healthy and attractive.

Major cities in the Unites States and other countries are now creating well designed and attractive affordable public and subsidized housing  … major architects are getting involved in the effort to create better and healthy single living spaces for the financial disadvantaged citizenry among us. One plan has produced integrated and various  level income housing communities, while other initiatives have created buildings with the single goal of affordable small but well designed living units … all geared toward a better quality of life. The outcome has demonstrated not only a better result for inhabitants of these well designed  low income units but for the community in general –  legal, medical and sociology experts have studied and agreed that living in a better environment produces individuals more physically and mentally healthy and there is decreased crime and as such less cost/expense to others. Even public transportation throughout the world has been addressed by architects – the stations are now multiple purposed in many places, offering amenities and services, as well as a safer environment. There really is no part of human existence that can not be made better by design and that is why architecture really DOES matter – in many ways and for many reasons!!!

P.S. A previous blog about our Labarador, Princess Java Argus surely expressed how much we consider her family – as such the plan for our new residence is that she & the second Labrador we are planning to add to the Eliasz-Solomon family, Princess Kava Pompeii have their own separate home [not dog house] with full amenities for times when parties or chaos make it uncomfortable or unsafe for pooches to be in main house …so, it goes without saying, we take architecture seriously!!!

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One Comment to “Le Petit Trianon And Why Architecture DOES Matter!”

  1. Very timely, especially the comments on public buildings, schools parks, etc, at a time when the GOP has promised to further slash spending in these areas.

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