The Ex-qui-site Corb workshop and exhibition, supplementing an option studio at the University of Michigan by the same name, explored contemporary ideas related to interventionist research and practice. The project speculated about emergent models of urban and architectural mediation through direct encounter with a complex and contentious site.


The investigation opened with an undocumented private house, the Menuserie Sylva, in the French town of St. Dié des Vosges. This vernacular house cum architectural test site is so outwardly banal that it remained virtually invisible for more than half a century. The interior details, however, express the avant-garde edge of the Modernist canon and are attributable in varying degrees to Le Corbusier and/or Jean-Jacques Prouvé. Commissioned by industrialist Jean-Jacques Duval at a moment when he was working closely with Le Corbusier on other projects, the house is a site of historical approximation, one that allows for the reconstruction of a nuanced and obscured affiliation between an affluent client and a prominent architect, as well as raising questions about the dichotomy between authorship and appropriation, authenticated remnants and constructed fictions.


Ex-qui-site Corb takes stock of the details: opening the enigmatic house for collective consideration and tasking the workshop's participants to respond to this curious architectural scenario through material interposition and speculative activation. The outcomes look to privilege juxtaposition, irregularity, chance, and idiosyncrasy, making a case for architecture’s material, discursive, and narrative capacities in the hope of producing something greater than the sum of its parts.

Ex-qui-site Corb, 2016

St-Die-des-Vosges, France



Anya Sirota


In collaboration with:

Patrick Beaucé, Colin Ponthot


Landscape consultant:

Christophe Ponceau


Image consultant:

Marie Combes


Exhibit photography:

Matthieu Gafsou


Project team:

Adam Wilbanks, Megan Peters, Wenye Zhu, Sydney Brown, Allyson Hrit, Chia-Hsing Chang, Gaurav Sardana, Kerry Conway, Ming Qi, Ryan Goold, Tafhim Rahman, Xjiajun Zhang


Special thanks:

Christian Debize, Geraud Didier, Yannick Le Coquil, Remy Duval, Sharon Haar, Maryann Wilkinson


Thanks and support:

Ville de St-Die-des-Vosges, and the Ecole nationale superieure d'art et de design de Nancy