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 effort 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 initially appeared so outwardly banal that for more than half a century the site had remained virtually invisible. 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 narrative reconstruction of a nuanced and obscured affiliation between an affluent client and a prominent architect. The house also raises questions about multiple dichotomies: authorship and appropriation, authenticated remnants and constructed fictions, the architectural and the vernacular.


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

St-Die-des-Vosges, France, 2016


Project Lead: Anya Sirota


Collaboration: 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



This workshop was made possible with support from Ville de St-Die-des-Vosges, the Ecole nationale superieure d'art et de design de Nancy, Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning. Special thanks to Christian Debize, Geraud Didier, Yannick Le Coquil, Remy Duval, Sharon Haar, and Maryann Wilkinson.