What is a Charrette?

  • A charrette is an organized intense brainstorming session that planners and architects use to initiate a planning project
  • Charrette is derived from the French word for cart or wagon.
  • In the 19th century, students at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris would be on a deadline to finish their projects. There are two accounts of how the term was used:

    • The first is that the students would still be working on their project when it was due and would hop on a cart or wagon and work on the project all the way to the school
    • The second is that the instructor would come by with a cart, the students had to put their work into it whether they were done or not (very much like “put down your pencils” in today’s testing)
  • The term “en charrette” later became a common term for architects and designers to describe the ordeal of meeting a rush deadline.