07 April 2008

What's "charrette?"

I hate explaining this one, possibly more than I hate explaining the five-year (no, six-year) architecture program that I'm eleven days away from completing.

"Charette" is a French word for "cart," or "chariot." In my case, it describes the final push before deadline, or "pencils down." (And X-Acto knives, rulers, glue bottles. Drawing, cutting, measuring, gluing, plotting—no. Drinking, crying, smoking—yes.) This use of the word "charrette" is believed to have originated from the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in the 19th century, where a cart, or “charrette," went around collecting final drawings while students frantically put finishing touches on their work. Some students went as far as riding the cart ("en charrette") through the streets of Paris.

Wikipedia notes:

The period of a charrette typically involves not only a focused and sustained effort, but also "all-nighters" or sleepless nights of toil. The word "charrette" may also be used as a verb, as in, for example, "I am charretting" or "I am on charrette [or: en charrette]," simply meaning I am working long nights, intensively toward a deadline.

I would also like to point out that, historically, "charrette" can also refer to the cart used to carry the condemned to the guillotine, also known as Final Review.

Our deadline here at Rice School of Architecture Paris (RSAP) is Friday, April 14 at 6 PM. Final Review is the following day. Bon courage to all the archis near and far. See you on the cart!

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