analogies : buildings

A wall in Copenhagen, Denmark
A wall in Copenhagen, Denmark

For example :

olive oil presses & sanctuaries

"The South-Western part of Cyprus has quite a number of stone pillars in which window-like holes were drilled. (…) They were supports for the levers of olive crushers : the end of a tree trunk was inserted into the hole. (…) In 1874, Palma di Cesnola identified two of these monoliths as parts of a temple of Aphrodite. (…)

Such interpretations of worship were justified by the fact that such monuments did play a religious role in traditional societies : they were seen as having healing virtues. Lamps were placed inside niches. Coins were left as offerings. Sick children were passed through the holes in the hope of curing them. At Anoyira,  women did the same in order to fall pregnant."

Jean-Pierre Brun, Wine and Oil in the Ancient Mediterraean (2003), p. 219

the little rooms

«  (…) when you pay seven francs a day, tout compris, it comprises everything but the right to look down upon the others. But there are people who, the less they pay, the more they take themselves au serieux. My most difficult boarders have always been those who have had the little rooms."

The Pension Beaurepas (1879)
Henry James


These days, the company which manufactures Lego bricks showcases figures with licensed themes similar to its competitor's Playmobil. The buildings, vehicles, etc. that go with them are burdened with ever ridiculously realistic details.


Recently, and initially, Lego's classical beauty used to be found in its system, both simple and full of possible combinations. It was the plastic equivalent of a garden in the French formal style with its limited range of elements : few toy bricks in primary colours and black and white.


Naturally, such retrained formalism left plenty of room for your imagination. Alas, ready-to-dream now rules.



A detail after Denis Darzacq, Hyper
A detail after Denis Darzacq, Hyper

Because of its principle, Gondorla proliferates.


First, it stocks goods just like a pensioner on the French Riviera hit by a fear of wanting just after major suicide attacks.


When the panic is gone, it cultivates its taste for Georges Perec (1936-82) and his Things : A Story of the Sixties, and his lists.


Such passion for storing comes with its own risks, as with the treasures Henry James makes Mrs Gareth gather in The Spoils of Poynton (1897).


A decrepit Venetian palace commands a very high price for its charms. Two formidable women guard it; the palace with its two watch bitches is a formidable safe against whoever intends to burglarize it : The Aspern Papers (1888), Henry James.


A grim emporium may also produce baroque rapture in Denis Darzacq's photographic series Hyper (2007-9).


ideal palace

Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924), a postman, spent thirty-three years of his life at Hauterives, Southern France, carrying stones to build his Ideal Palace.


The encyclopedic façades of his Palace include the Springs of Life and Wisdom ; Egyptian and Hindu temples ; Giants (Julius Caesar, Vercingetorix, Archimedes of Syracuse) ; a Tower of Barbary ; many animals ; a miniature Swiss chalet, a castle, etc.


For lack of a license to be buried in his Palace, the postman built his Tomb of Silence and Endless Rest in the local cemetery over the course of eight years. He was eighty-six when he completed it.


miniature golf

A golf course in the South of France conjures up images of a landscape carpeted in disturbing green, a lawn on life support with watering and pesticides, gasoline burnt while wearily and endlessly mowing. The place has the biodiversity of a paved piazza.


Golf's cool side is to be found in its racketeering of players displaying their golden autumn. The type of crowd who, their physical condition permitting, now proudly register for the Iron Tour.


In contrast with this antinature, miniature golf is a charmer. It is a pure figment of the urban spirit, a world of miniature play, a transgenerational sports Legoland.


Just like love or Gondorla, it is attractive, implementing it may not prove up to its promise.



(FRENCH = a place to dream)

A term coined by Pierre Loti (1850-1923), a naval officer and writer, to describe the house where he was born and where he lived at Rochefort, a port on the Atlantic coast in Western France.

Loti reorganized his 'stationary harbour' with a Turkish sitting room ; Arab, monastic and mummies bedrooms; a mosque ; a Japanese pagoda, Renaissance and farmer's rooms, etc.


The decor provided props for his day-dreaming and a setting to stage his own life, including through fancy dress parties.


A detail after Guignoltoon
A detail after Guignoltoon

Adjoining houses have a clear tendency to build additional rooms and floors, and outer buildings as well as to annex adjacent plots.


Gondorla's neighbourhood is so old that what used to be the ground level is now the first level of underground cellars. Access is now through what used to be the first floor. The ground has been excavated further, first for cellars and then for another house which cannot be seen by passers-by in the street, or for catacombs, bunkers, sweatshops.


Gondorla is increasingly organized according to the same principle : unassuming façades above underground structures which grow as needed, without being necessarily deprived of day-light, since they can use other buildings for light wells and air conduits, with no public access of their own except secret exits.


As for decoration and wall coating, the texts appear as panels painted al fresco, wood panelling, cladding, or common plastering.



A detail after Hector Horeau
A detail after Hector Horeau

Gondorla covers the different structures of its texts.


Gondorla could be like a series of greenhouses, or a glass-vaulted arcade in the taste of the early nineteenth-century to maximize the value of the central part of a city block.


Or a villa with its residential and agricultural parts, or ancient thermae complete with their palestra and library.


A detail after Jourda and Perraudin
A detail after Jourda and Perraudin