You love to travel, you are passionate about architecture.
You just returned from a trip and a colleague asks you: “Did you visit ‘that’ building? It is not famous, but it is very interesting. “
You start feeling nervous. You google it and… Noooo! How could you miss it?
Calm down, you are not alone. You can always go back :).
La Ricarda · El Prat de Llobregat, España
However, I have good news:
The technique for preparing Architecture Trips can be improved over the years.
Are you interested in getting some tips to move on to the next level?
Then grab a pencil and paper. Let’s get started!
1. Start preparing your future Architecture Trips TODAY
What do I mean by this?
No, I’m not going crazy for not being allowed to travel lately… or do I? (written during the Covid-19 pandemic).
Every time you see an interesting building, write it down! Find its location and save it to your Google Maps -or wherever you have your favorite maps-.
I’ve been doing this for years, and today I have a map full of future Architectural Visits. When a new trip comes up, I go to my map and see what works of architecture are nearby. Depending on the duration of the trip and with whom I’m traveling, I plan what works I can visit and which ones can wait.
Having a map of future Architectural Visits is key when preparing unexpected trips.
Thanks to this, I did not miss the Piazza d’Italia in New Orleans. As you can imagine, that trip was not planned for visiting architecture…
Piazza d’Italia · New Orleans, USA
Now, where will you find the information to build your Architectural Visits map?
Architecture magazines, exhibitions, books… and the most commonplace: social media.
If you are one of those who spend too much time on Instagram, let’s make it worthwhile!
If you see an architectural photo that catches your eye, include the project and its location on your map. You will appreciate it later.
Ok, I hear you…
What if I still don’t have my Architectural Visits map and I want to start planning my next trip?
It is time to move on to the second tip:
2. Expand your search radius and go one step further
If you ever visited buildings by Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius or Louis Kahn, you will know that their most emblematic works of architecture are not usually in the center of large cities. And what is worse, often not even close.
This can put anyone off, but trust me the extra effort is well worth it. This is how I could visit some of the best works of architecture to this day.
La Tourette · Éveux-sur-Arbresle, France
A good example is the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe. It is located in Plano, more than an hour from downtown Chicago. I had to rent a car and plan my visit more than a month in advance, but it really paid off.
When I arrived to the house there was no one there yet. I could enjoy the house from the other side of the river all by myself.
Would you like to experience such a magical moment?
Well then, expand your search radius. This does not usually happen when the building is in a city center or easily accessible.
Besides, why don’t we benefit of inconvenience?
When preparing my visit to the Farnsworth House, I benefited from renting a car and planned a full day of Architectural Visits. I had my map (yippee!) to help me locate those works that were nearby. I was finally able to visit two other buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright that were on my list since a long time ago.
Can you imagine which ones? If you are interested in my day trip from Chicago and the buildings I visited, leave a comment and I will post the mini road trip ;).
Now, it is time to introduce one of the most important points:
3. Schedule all your Architectural Visits in a calendar
Once you have decided on the works you want to visit, it is time to start planning. Look at the visiting hours of each one and, most importantly, their availability on the dates of your trip.
Let’s start our Tetris! Everything must fit together.
This is usually the most boring step of the pre-trip, and you may even be disappointed some times. However, once your adventure starts, you will greatly appreciate it.
What if there are no tours available for that day? What if it is temporarily closed? Undoubtedly, it is better to know it in advance than to be surprised on-site.
Once you have your puzzle assembled, it is time to book all the tours online or by phone.
Le Corbusier Route
You are now one step away from reaching PRO level on your architecture trip.
But wait. If many of the works you want to visit are in a city, take note of the following point:
4. Buy comfortable shoes and plan Walking Tours
I hope you are in shape and you like walking, because there is no better way to understand and enjoy a city than using your feet.
For this, go back to your map from section 1 (yay!!) and start connecting the points you have listed. It is time to set up your walking tours passing by the works of architecture that you want to visit.
Besides understanding the city, you will discover unexpected places.
That happened to me when I started walking Barcelona on my own. The city went from being a series of isolated points in my head, to a perfectly connected urban pattern. This is how I realized how important walking routes are.
Use this on your travels! Here you have an example of walking tour at Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter that I love doing every time I go back home.
However, if you still don’t have enough information about your destination, you can always take an organized walking tour. These are good examples:
Finally, I have a wild proposal. If you are really passionate about architecture, don’t miss this:
5. Plan an Architecture Marathon
With all the information from previous points, plan THE DAY.
You won’t regret it.
As I mentioned before, I have rented a car for just visiting a building in many occasions. Well, as happened with my visit to the Farnsworth House, those days usually end up being Architecture marathons.
My first time doing this alone was on a trip to Los Angeles, my West Coast debut. Since I didn’t have much time, I spent a full day visiting all the houses from my list. Well, it might have been two days… But, what an experience!
From visiting the Case Study House 8 by the Eames couple, to the Schindler House or Richard Neutra’s VDL. Needless to say that I also went through the hills to see the spectacular Frank Lloyd Wright homes among others.
Would you like to do an architecture marathon in Los Angeles? If you leave a comment and there’s interest, I will post an architecture guide like the one for Philadelphia.
Guild House · Philadelphia, USA
Spending a full day visiting, taking photos and learning from the best architecture is brutal.
To start planning your architecture marathon, take the calendar from section 3 and check how many visits can fit into the same day. Keep in mind that some visits can be extended, so try not to make very close reservations.
By the way, don’t forget to save time to eat. You would not be the first starving nerd waiting for that perfect photo…
The moment of the truth has arrived
Let’s get to work!
Start today with section 1, so preparing your next trip will be much easier.
If you still have questions or need help, you can always contact me. I will love to share my map of past and future Architectural Visits with you, and help you plan your next Architecture Trips.
ARCHITECTURE AND PHOTOGRAPHY TRIPS
The information you need and a specialized support
Now, it’s your turn!
What will you visit on your next Architecture Trip?
Don’t forget your camera! You will need it 😉