FLASHBACK: Royal Saltworks | Saline Royale d'Arc et Senans

Entrance to the director's building | Entrée de la maison du directeur

Version Française ci-dessous

Back in February this year, I visited the Arc et Senans Royal Saltworks in the Franche-comte region of France. The complex was designed by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux in the late 18th century. It was intended as a salt processing facility for briny spring waters from the surroundings. 

The complex was designed hierarchically in a semi-circular plan that was to form part of a larger city imagined by Ledoux, plan that never fully came about. It was completed at a time where traditional, labour and ressource-intensive means of production were starting to be replaced by thanks to the nascent industrial revolution, which made the saltworks obsolete almost from the beginning.

It never produced to the extent it was supposed to and about 100 year after opening, salt production permanently ceased, not being able to compete with cheaper sea salt brought by rail.

Nonetheless, Ledoux designed a very innovative complex for the time, rationalizing the organization of the salt production, housing all the workers on-site, essentially forming a self-contained community. Indeed, salt was then a very coveted commodity as it was used to preserve food and was heavily taxed by the Ferme générale. Housing all workers on-site was a way to control production and prevent the smuggling of salt outside of the facility.

Of note, at the Maison du directeur, are several architectural features that separate the building from the rest of the complex, to show its importance. The columns are made of square and cylindrical sections which create very photogenic shadow plays. The central location, unique architectural feature and the oversized oculus in the  pediment makes it crystal clear how important is that building to the plan.

Ledoux’s legacy ended up being mostly made of unbuilt projects, the saltworks being on of the few built projects that still stand to this day and allows us to see how ahead of his time he was.

Director's building | Maison du directeur

Au mois de Février 2015, j’ai eu l’occasion de visiter la Saline Royale d’Arc et Senans, dans la region Franche-Comté. L’ensemble conçu par Claude-Nicolas Ledoux au 18eme siècle fut â l'origine une usine de production de sel, utilisant les sources saumâtres locales pour en extraire cette substance très précieuse.

Le projet a été conçu suivant un plan semi-circulaire ou toutes les fonctions sont hiérarchisées et placées en fonction de leur importance. Il fut conçu a l’origine comme faisant partie d’une ville conçue par Ledoux qui ne fut jamais complétée. Le complexe incorporait des méthodes de production proto-industrielles qui furent mises en place un peu trop tard, la revolution industrielle ayant commencé peu de temps après, ce qui rendit les salines obsolètes des le depart. 

La saline ne produisit jamais autant que prévu et fût fermée tout juste 100 ans après sa creation, la concurrence avec le sel de mer, livré par chemin de fer, étant trop forte.

Ledoux néanmoins conçût un ensemble innovant pour son époque, rationalisant la production de sel, incluant des logements pour les ouvriers sur site pour créer une forme de commune autarcique. Le sel étant un denrée très convoitée a l’époque pour la preservation de la nourriture, il était logique de protéger les revenus de la Gabelle de la Ferme Générale en contrôlant l’accès à la saline et en limitant les allées et venues des ouvriers.

A noter, la maison du directeur qui occupe la place centrale de la Saline, comporte des éléments architecturaux qui la distingue du reste, tels que les colonnes a sections carrées et ronde ainsi que l’oculus démesuré au milieu du frontispice, mettent en evidence l’importance de cet edifice par rapport au reste du complexe.

L’heritage de Ledoux reste composé principalement de projets non-construits, la saline étant un des rares complexes qu’il a pu voir bâti. Après la chute de l’ancien regime, Ledoux se concentra sur la conception de villes idéales et de projets spéculatifs, car ayant été un architecte disposant des faveur du roi, il sombra dans l’obscurité, jusqu’a ce qu’il fut redécouvert bien plus tard, au vingtième siècle.

Covered porch of a production building | Colonnade d'un bâtiment de production.




Little Trinity by DTAH

Earlier this summer, Revelateur was commissioned to shoot DTAH's little trinity project. This is constitutes a good example of adaptive reuse in the city of toronto. This was a fun shoot as it was all about showcasing the interplay between the old and the new. 

Facade on King St. East (at Parliament).

DTAH has a summary of their project here:

"The Little Trinity Church community, founded in 1844 near the corner of King Street East and Parliament Streets in Toronto, developed a building expansion study to investigate the renovation and redevelopment of the three buildings on their site to maximize community worship, social services, and recreational uses in response to the future West  Don Lands development immediately south of their property.

Back of building from garden.

DTAH redeveloped the derelict 19th century townhouses at 399 King Street into the Little Trinity Annex, a new administrative centre and multi-purpose hall for the church community. Renovations in the school house building included the basement multi-purpose hall and ground floor child care spaces to maximize Sunday School capacity and functionality."

Multi-purpose hall.

Although a small project, it was a fun shoot as adaptive reuse presents challenges that are not necessarily evident when shooting other kinds of projects.

Building from garden.

Tips for hiring an architectural photographer #10

This is post 10 of 10, in a series detailing important aspects to hiring an architectural photographer while avoiding the most common pitfalls.

10. DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. 

Some shoots will require specific equipment and skills to be done properly. Do not skimp out on the expense if it gives you the images you need. Equipment rental and consultants are sometimes necessary to get the job done well. You photographer will be able to make appropriate recommendations.

Webster PS, Kohn Shnier Architects, Toronto

Tips for hiring an architectural photographer #9

This is post 9 of a series of 10, in a series detailing important aspects to hiring an architectural photographer while avoiding the most common pitfalls.

9. CHOOSE EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE. 

Professionalism prevents a lot of headaches. It is often said that the first impression says a lot about a person. Make sure your photographer cares about your needs in more than just words. Their attitude, attentiveness and professionalism should show in everything they do. Make your life easier by choosing someone you can rely on. 

 Buckingham Arena,  WGD Architects , Toronto.

Buckingham Arena, WGD Architects, Toronto.

Tips for hiring an architectural photographer #8

This is post 8 of a series of 10, in a series detailing important aspects to hiring an architectural photographer while avoiding the most common pitfalls.

8. CONSIDER ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS.

Your photographer should know how to deal with these factors (seasons, weather and time of day) in order to take the best shots at the ideal time. Factor in weather and allow for contingency plans. Architectural photography is particularly subject to weather, especially when shooting exteriors. When planning a shoot, ask if your photographer has a contingency plan in the case of bad weather - and do not hesitate to reschedule. If images are shot in poor weather, you risk having to re-shoot the project at additional expense if the quality is negatively affected. Ask your photographer to supply you with a site prep checklist. There is a lot more going into preparing the site for photography than just cleaning up. In order to get the best looking shots, ask your photographer to make recommendations for staging the images. 

Warden Avenue Jr. PS, Kohn Shnier Architects, Toronto

Tips for hiring an architectural photographer #7

This is post 7 of a series of 10, in a series detailing important aspects to hiring an architectural photographer while avoiding the most common pitfalls.

7. GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE.

Mutually beneficial relationships are best for all parties involved and crediting your photographer whenever you use their images is more than a mere contractual requirement, it is an ethical thing to do. They should also credit you, the client, on their online and offline marketing material. Do not hesitate to ask them to do so should they not offer it from the get-go (it can also be a contractual agreement). 

 Webster PS,  Kohn Shnier Architects , Toronto

Webster PS, Kohn Shnier Architects, Toronto

Tips for hiring an architectural photographer #6

This is post 6 of a series of 10, in a series detailing important aspects to hiring an architectural photographer while avoiding the most common pitfalls.

6. MINIMIZE YOUR COSTS.

A good photographer will understand your needs and help you come up with a solution that fits your budget. There are many ways to keep costs reasonable and this should be discussed with your photographer, for example:

1. Shop locally if you can. By avoiding travel expenses, you save money and promote the local economy.

2. Bundle shoots together. If you can combine several projects to be shot at the same time, your photographer should be able to give you a better deal.

3. Use fewer and better views. Carefully consider the shots you need in order to save money. If unsure, your photographer will have a good idea of what shots will best tell the story of your project. Ask them to make recommendations.

4. Keep the bottom line in mind. How much money are you likely to make with these images? How many projects can they help you win? 

Greenrock rental management office, Toronto, Kohn Shnier Architects