As seems to be traditional at this time of year, here is yet another list. Rather than just simply present the top 5 posts though, I have also added a few notes to explain why I picked the subject, why I think it found an audience, and what has happened since.
Firstly though, on top of thanking everyone for visiting the site this year and for reading the posts, I'd just like to say how pleased I am that the list - which includes architecture, history, street art and a kind of diluted psychogeography - reflects the range of topics I try to present on this blog.
Top 5 most consulted posts of the year:
1. Stephen Sauvestre: The forgotten architect of the Eiffel Tower
When I began working on this post, I had no idea that there had even been an official architect of the Eiffel Tower. Stephan Sauvestre was just a name that I kept seeing etched into buildings in the 17th arrondissement, and the range of the creations he was involved with encouraged me to dig a little deeper. Discovering the connection to Gustave Eiffel was quite exciting, and it was clear that it should become the focus of the post. I had vowed to myself to never feature the Eiffel Tower on this blog, but this was an invisible angle that I couldn't resist. Finally, including the name 'Eiffel Tower' in the title of a post also obviously helps bring in new readers!
2. Peurs sur la Ville - "Paris is a battlefield"
I try to keep up to date with exhibitions in Paris, but it is rare that I choose to feature them on this blog. This exhibition though - a look at Paris as a battleground, both in reality and the imaginary - seemed worthy of investigation. I managed to get myself on the press list for the vernissage (perhaps because they somehow confused me with a journalist from The Guardian newspaper!) and found enough material for a post, possibly helped by the contrast between the sometimes gruesome pictures and the luxurious surroundings (including the champagne and petits fours at the vernissage)!
I was particularly pleased with the fact that this post made it onto the list of links of interest on BLDGBLOG, one of my favourite blogs, and that consequently many of the visitors came from that site (enough to send the post into the top 5!).
3. Noise Maps of Paris
When I read an article in a newspaper about the launch of a series of noise maps of Paris, I knew that it would be a subject that I would have to feature on this blog. I was initially struck by the choice of word - 'bruit' or noise, rather than 'son' or sounds, which instantly transformed the maps into something that would be negative and slightly sinister. On discovering the maps themselves, I was then struck by how graphically interesting and almost beautiful they were, which offered a fascinating contrast to their declared role.
Despite the name of this blog, the subjects are almost entirely physical, so it was interesting to treat a subject that was truly invisible. This blog is also very much about keeping eyes open, but this was a reminder that our ears are also just as important, and that we cannot generalise about such topic and always equate noise with nuisance. This was demonstrated in one of my favourite comments of the year from a reader called Dom who commented that he lives "in the west close to the periph and rather than it being an intrusive 24/7 hated noise, I in fact embrace it as a monotonous, calming lullaby".
4. The Maison Galvani
A house with a tree growing out of its facade cannot be anything but interesting, but what I particularly appreciated about this post was how a link I'd provided to the architect's website became a reciprocal link back to mine. Another of my self-imposed rules is that I avoid subjects that have been amply treated elsewhere, and whilst I was aware that this house was a staple of course material for students of architecture, I wanted to look at how it had changed since delivery.
The project seemed to demonstrate some of the tribulations of being an architect for private clients. The architect, Christian Pottgiesser, is clearly very proud of his creation, but once delivered it is no longer his baby. Following a slightly withering remark - "as far as we know, the ground floor has recently been transformed into a cellar. The two courtyards have been demolished, maximising square meters", there is now a link back to this page.
5. Challenge 1: The mysterious man on a ladder
Over the three years that I have been running this blog, I have occasionally attempted to launch new features, with more or less success. I'm pleased to see that the 'challenge me' feature has made this year's top 5, as it is something I enjoy doing, and it also offers me a chance to interact with readers.
I had some hesitations about accepting this challenge. Uncovering the identities of street artists is not the done thing, but this artist seemed to be doing something a little different. His identity was not hidden as such, but it simply appeared that his creations had become more important than the person who had painted them. The artist is somebody who has had success in galleries and who had developed a certain renown, but he seemed to feel that his creations were in some way trapped by the limits of a frame, and had to move out onto the streets in order to survive. Unless of course it is simply a way to develop some 'street' credibility in order to better sell his more traditional work!
I have since published five other responses to challenges, answered a few others directly and failed with one or two. I have three others that I will answer at the beginning of the year, but always welcome any questions or challenges, so please don't hesitate to send them!