On the 10th day of architecture…

Returning from our 10 day trip left me both exhausted from the full schedule and also rejuvenated from the chance to travel to so many places. My studio work has been coming along slowly but surely. Being surrounded by such significant and inspiring architecture provided some much needed inspiration for my own project. In particular, the work of Herzog and De Meuron became a large scale of the intentions for my interventions within Genova.

Two buildings in particular, one at the Vitra campus and the Actelion Business Center, were a series of similar forms intersecting to create a dynamic overall form. Where as these buildings used form to separate program, I am similarly using them to divide public from private spaces. Robert needs a blended program of both kinds of spaces, as well as spaces where he can feel connected to the public while still being by himself (such as a overlook space). His creative studio is his space for interaction with both his environment and the people that inhabit this environment. The space also creates a courtyard space, similar to the Actelion Business Center. The ability to see how such innovative firms design spaces in different ways was a learning experience for this project and for projects to come.


Better Late than Never

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The 10 day trip has gotten me a little behind on blogging (and truthfully everything) so this post will be about our trip to Milano two weeks ago. I was excited to go to Milan, the fashion capital of the world and home to some beautiful architecture. I loved the churches that we visited, but especially the Church of Santa Maria.

In my high school AP World History class, we did a project on Renaissance artists, scholars and architects. I randomly picked a name on the listed and ended up writing a paper on Bramante. I remember some of the background of Bramante and I loved the symmetry and balance he created in the Tempietto and other buildings. It was ironic that I ended up doing a project on an Italian architect before I decided to study architecture or study in Italy.

Being in the Church of Santa Maria brought the memories of the project flooding back to me. Giudi warned us about the forced perspective but when I entered the church, I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about until  we moved towards the back of the church.The back of the church was only a few feet deep, but it appeared to be at least 20 or 30 times that. I was expecting a classical church, similar to what we had seen in the past month, but this church surprised me in a good wayDoc – 2-12-16, 12-47 PM. Architecture is at its best when it tricks you or doesn’t show you the whole picture until you study it more.


Studio Update


As we return from our first ten-day trip, studio projects once again come to the forefront of our minds. Being a few weeks into the garden pavilion interventions, most of our designs are nearing finalization. Although the project is in its final phases, my design was still influenced by the architecture we saw on the trip.

The Dome by Richard Buckminister at the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein.  immediately reminded me of my pavilions. The dome-shaped tent was constructed in 1975 and acquired by the Vitra Campus at an auction in 2000. Richard Buckminister developed an engineering principle called “geodesic domes,” which are triangular structured geometries that have extreme stability, minimal resources and are able to span great widths.

The triangular panels of the dome reminded me of the triangular panels of my garden pavilions. Before visiting the Dome, I had wondered if the canvas/tensile material of the pavilions would actually work to filter the natural light like I planned. Seeing how the light flooded through the canvas material of the Dome, yet was still diffused reinforced my design ideas. The steel frame structure of the Dome inspired me to create the structure of my pavilions with steel, as well. The steel framing created interesting shadows on the canvas inside the dome.

The Dome is very much like a pavilion and is currently used for temporary exhibitions. Since my garden pavilions are purposed as art studios for the client Chiara, I feel like they are similar to the Dome in usage. The paintings Chiara will create in the pavilions will be temporary exhibitions of sort, but personal to Chiara instead of on public display.

It was very interesting visiting a structure similar to the one I am currently designing. It not only reinforced my ideas, but also inspired the furtherance of my design.


-Madison S.

Another Week in Studio


Another week in studio has passed and I can say that it has been hard and the thought process has been difficult. Designing at this small of a scale is different compared to what we have been used to so it has been hard for me to adjust to it. It has also been hard to design these pavilions because I am trying to balance designing this pavilion specifically for my client, a homeless immigrant, while also trying to design it in a way that best fits the surrounding site. One thing that I had noticed was that I was getting so stuck on how the form of the pavilion looked that I was totally overlooking the basic program that was needed to fit my client. So after figuring that program space out, I was then able to start designing what the form of the pavilion would look like; and again I am stuck. I know that I can figure it out but the process of figuring it out is long and difficult. I am trying to combine three different program spaces using three different cubes that intersect each other and I am trying to discover and design the best way to do that. We’ll see how the design of these pavilions turns out next week!

Till next time,

Harrison Polk

Keeping it simple…

Studio—probably one of the most complicated portions of my day, and life! There are so many things that I have to think about when designing a piece of architecture that it can get a little overwhelming. During one of my desk critiques, Professor Schafer told me that I was making it too complicated. Haha…I laughed because that is totally true, and if you know me, you are probably laughing too! Complicated is my middle name. So, I have realized that it is important for me to simplify my design in order to most effectively communicate a main concept. In the case of the Garden pavilions, I have to communicate a separation between public and private space in a very simple way. One of the things I have been thinking about this week is how to use small details to help communicate a change or continuation of space. For both pavilions, I think that the ground plane material will help communicate the identity of a space (whether it is public or private). While I do want to incorporate small details I do not want to overwhelm the simple concept for the pavilion that will most effectively meet the client’s needs. I have discovered that sometimes it takes a long, complicated process before you can reach a product that is simple, yet profound, but like I said before…Im trying to keep it simple.

Madison Hope

A Trip to Milano

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The first time I spent some time in Milano was when I spent about a total of fifteen minutes waiting for a train at the Milano Rogoredo train station to pick me up to take me to Modena; so I guess you could say I knew nothing about Milano before this trip. During this trip I discovered that Milano was full of great architecture, from Gothic Architecture to Modern Architecture and I noticed that all of the old, classic architecture is located in the city center and all of the newer modern architecture is located on the outskirts of the city.

This trip definitely got very interesting when Giuditta said that we were going to spend a lot of time in the Duomo, which I had never heard of until this trip. We were walking through the street after lunch and she said that we were headed to the Duomo so I asked, “what’s the Duomo?” We then turned the corner and saw the gigantic cathedral in the center of the large piazza in the center of the city and I then said, “the Duomo, more like the ‘woah-mo’.” I was in awe of how gorgeous and monumental it was and how much ornamentation it had all over it with the hundreds of steeples and statues on top of those steeples. It was also surrounding by very cool buildings and structures that were very aesthetically pleasing.

I really enjoyed visiting Milan and I can’t wait for the next time we take another day trip there.

Till next time,

Harrison Polk

Milan Perspective

Our visit to Milan—one of the fashion capitals of the world—was much different than I expected. Although the city may exhibit the latest clothing trends, I thought the architecture was lacking in the fashion department. Like other busy cities, Milan just felt like a normal, grey, and dirty place. It probably didn’t help that the day we visited was cloudy and cold. The Bramante cathedrals that we visited were interesting, but none particularly stuck out in my mind as extremely beautiful. The highlight of our trip to Milan was definitely our trip to the Duomo, particularly the tour of the rooftop. Although I did not particularly enjoy the view of Milan from the streets, the view from the top of the Duomo was absolutely beautiful. The towering gothic architecture surrounding me was very neat to experience, see up close, and touch. Giuditta told us that, because the piazzas or spaces in front of the cathedrals were very small, Gothic architecture was designed to be looked up at. I can understand this because when we visit these churches, I find myself craning my neck to look up at the structures towering above me. It was neat to be able to experience Gothic architecture, and Milan from a different perspective.

Madison Hope

Back to the Grind

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After our 10 day trip to Venezia, Vicenza, Verona, Basel, and many other places, it became time to get back to the drawing board. As many of my fellow colleagues have mentioned or will mention I was truly inspired by the works of Carlo Scarpa and his detailing with his projects. I was truly fascinated by his renovation of the Querini Stampalia Foundation with the “floating” stairs and the water features in the garden and his overall focus in the smaller details. My main focus on his works was the detailing of his water features and his floating walls. He would hide his structures to have the appearance of floating.

This brings me to my studio project. In continuation of our last assignment we have a client and two sites for his or her pavilions. My client is a homeless man in Genoa who needs a place to call “home” and continue his wood shop business. While homeless he has found refuge with a tree, which he feels comforted and also it indirectly provides his life through his business. The image is an iteration to one of my pavilions in the San Mateo Piazza. The two main moves I incorporated into my pavilion was setting back the private space to help divide his business and his room, and also what is not in the model yet is the columns will have metal rods that reach the roof to help support the roof but yet disappear with the glass because the rods look like mullions from a distance. I cannot wait to see what else will inspire me in the future trips.


Hunter H.



After seeing so much classical architecture on the first 10 day trip throughout Venice, Vicenza and Verona, it was almost a relief to experience contemporary architecture in Basel, Switzerland and Weil am Rhein, Germany. As we walked all over Basel seeing and learning about different buildings by Herzog & de Meuron, the one that really stuck out to me and appealed to me the most was Rehab Basel. Constructed almost entirely out of wood, it created a calm and peaceful environment for those that live there. And for my small intervention projects, that’s what I want to do for my client, Franco.

In Piazza Lavagna in Genova, I have decided to elevate the pavilion to give Franco the sense of being lifted up, both physically and mentally. He needs to escape the reality of the noisy, cramped life around him and seek a calm and quiet place. Herzog & de Meuron utilized horizontal wooden elements to act as a screen in front of the windows, creating privacy but also allowing some exposure. I already had vertical wooden elements as a skin covering my pavilion, but I have decided to make them thinner and move them closer together. Now, when Franco is inside, he has the ability to see out to the buildings around him and down to the piazza below him, but when people walking by look up, they can’t see as well into the pavilion. These elements create a strong sense of privacy and relief for Franco and allow him to escape to a place that is totally his own.


Work Hard, Play Hard


No sooner had we walked in the door at the villa after our first ten-day trip than we had to get back to work. Our first studio project is winding down. We bought a little extra time now that we’ll be presenting the final result to Tim Brown, a Clemson faculty member, when he visits in a few weeks. But the original due date was this past Wednesday so we’re all pretty close to and ending point. Sometimes I think more time can be a bad thing. It opens up opportunities to second guess your self and tweak things just a little too much. But regardless a fresh iteration was pumped out and now all that remains is the final. I feel pretty confident in my design at its current state. The overall form is pretty well solidified. All that remains is to hammer out a few larger details and decide on materiality and we should have a pretty good final product on our hands. I’m looking to some of the Scarpa works we saw over this past 10-day trip for some inspiration. For example I plan on pulling my floor plate away from the walls so it begins to “float” in the space a bit. We’ll have to wait and see how it all comes together.

But for the moment I’ve got other things on my mind. This weekend the gang is traveling to Cervinia, an Alpine town in Northern Italy, to hit the slopes for some snowy fun. (Yes that picture up there is the Matterhorn, and we’ll be skiing with that as our view) I’ll be strapping those long planks you call skis on my feet for the second time in my life to make my way through the Alps. Talk about being tossed into the frying pan! But I wouldn’t have it any other way and I’m beyond stoked. If you don’t get an update from me on here for a while don’t worry, I’m probably just digging myself out of an avalanche somewhere.


_Brad Van Rassel