Thursday we had our last and final day trip to the wonderful city of Milan. Our focus on Thursday was looking at contemporary works built and being built currently in Milan. I really enjoyed the day and it was refreshing to see some really beautiful pieces of contemporary architecture. My favorite site we visited was the Fondazione Prada. The recent project by Rem Koolhaas’s firm OMA was brilliant. I was really taken back by the project. After seeing a lot of publications on the project this summer I was really excited to see it. The use of the existing industrial buildings that make up the site create an unusual urban like fabric within the foundation’s walls. The old industrial spaces also created a great atmosphere for the contemporary art to reside in. Certain exhibition spaces reminded me of the Venice Biennale venue. The post industrial structures are contrasted with the addition of some contemporary buildings as well as the architect’s materiality. The use of very ordinary and simple materials in an innovate way was probably one of the strongest components of the project. The use of acrylic panels, perforated metal sheets, sliced timber helped to add a contemporary language to the post industrial site. I really enjoyed visiting the Fondazione Prada and I hope to draw inspiration from the Foundazione for my project this semester.
Our last trip to Milan was very refreshing. We FINALLY got to see a landscape architecture project. I’ll admit…. I wasn’t really a fan of the project, but there was grass and a lot of it. I think that the longer I am in an area that doesn’t have much green space I realize how much I miss it. The picture above is of my view eating lunch in the park. I ate by myself and just appreciated being outside and surrounded by vegetation. The whole experience was very relaxing except for the fact they were insistent on doing maintenance of the shrubs while we were there. But hey, at least they’re actually maintaining the integrity of the design, which is a major landscape architecture issue everywhere. The park was definitely my favorite part of my day in Milano: Round 3.
Last week we took a trip to Pavia and Vigevano (I know I’m late). Honestly, the most interesting part of the day to me is how much riding in a vehicle that is not public transportation slightly terrifies me now. When I get back to the States the adjustment back to a car and always driving places is going to take a while. After the initial bus trip we finally made it to the outskirts of Pavia to visit Certosa di Pavia, which was (you guessed it) another church! George never forgets to remind me that all of the churches are for me. Because you know, I love them so much. After the church we ventured into Pavia to visit a museum and grab lunch. Lunch consisted of fries with barbecue sauce (fave in the States) and a crepe. Who would have guessed that Travelers Rest, South Carolina has better crepes than Europe?? We then took a little trip to Vigevano. This was a very interesting town that would have been great to actually have more than just an hour or so to visit.
The picture above is of the terrazzi di marmo, which translates to “marble terraces”. The terrazzi di marmo was a connection to the port in the early 20th century. The marble terraces acted as an open market area in the port of Genova. It created a separate waterfront for the city and allowed the citizens to walk along the top and have clear visual access to the water. My studio project is focusing around urban reversion in 3 different ways. The first way is to design a modern interpretation of the terrazzi di marmo to create a new waterfront for the city and to increase visitors to the port area and lead them to the Lanterna. My structure will provide new urban fabric for Genova and a connection to the water when possible. The second way I am creating an urban reversion is by adding a lot of green space to the port area. Historically, there was a lot of vegetation leading to the Lanterna because the development of the city was focused on the opposite side of the port. I will create this form of urban reversion by allowing the vegetation to seem as if it’s taking over the architecture. The third way I will create urban reversion is by bringing the rivers back into play on the structure. I will accomplish this by adding an actual water feature or creating sensual lines with hardscape or vegetation. Even though designing a structure is pretty new to me and frustrating, I am looking forward to a new experience.
As independent travel week comes closer, we dive further into the studio project. This week was considered midterms so we had an exam in Nicola’s class and a somewhat mid term pin up/review today. We are wrapping up the urban scale design in the groups and are beginning to develop our own site concepts now. My site lies on the north side of the last port dock, taking this section allows for the completion of the touristic/public access to the port. Giving all sides of the port a better view than the cranes and container ships that they currently have. My program is going to consist of a large scale urban reconversion, changing industrial port to a welcoming green space for the city and tourist. I am focusing on an sports and athletic complex mixed into the public park feeling. I will also add an entertainment side of things with a grand amphitheater infrastructure and tying it all together with a massive berm running the length of my site. I will mix inside the berm a parking structure for the people to have access from all sides and farther down the port to Van’s site. I will take the feedback i got from studio today to take my concept even further. I can’t wait to see what comes of it.
I came to Italy largely for its historical value. I fully appreciate the notion that we must learn and understand before we can interpret and develop. Over the course of these trips, we’ve seen many beautiful structures with centuries of memories within their walls. However, I think the contemporary architecture focus of Tuesday provided a perspective that many of us have been missing.
In both old and new architecture, many stylistic and preferential differentiations can be made based on the level of complexity found in various components. The stone and glass planes of the Bocconi University building intersected and interjected one another on multiple levels. While the material usage and lines are simple, their composition forms a complex sectional space which is understood only from certain angles. The Prada Foundation used many simple volumes in conjunction to form a tiny village of museums which require exploration to navigate and experience thoroughly. In many cathedrals, though the course of motion throughout is rather obvious, ornate details control and slow down the eye and the feet while moving through.
I believe a balance between simplicity and complexity exists in all of these, though programming and other variations in design determine where and how each is employed. This balance is necessary in successful design, and examples throughout Milan are abundant. The city has much to offer historically while still growing and expanding through the 21st century.
What a charm it was! This was definitely my favorite day of the three days we went to visit Milan. I think it had more to do with the type of architecture we went to see. I like older architecture and there’s a lot to learn from it, but I like the new stuff too. I can relate to it better and it’s nice seeing things that are more recently built. It’s funny that we’re used to seeing older buildings with scaffolding for renovation, where as, the new ones have scaffolding because it’s not complete yet.
Rem Coolhass’s Foundation of Prada might have been one of my favorite building of the day. I love the attention to details and the materials that he used. I didn’t really know what the material was until I took a closer look. I also liked Zaha Hadid’s residential complex. It was very futuristic and interesting with all of the lines and curves. The materials used in the building also made it stand out to me. The space with the fountain and the play area was also something I was not used to seeing a lot in Italy. It seems to me that the newer areas of Milan are leaving more open space for playgrounds for children and the older areas are out of space. I definitely enjoyed the change of pace and architecture.
So another day trip in the books. Ill give you three guesses as to where we went, but the first two don’t count. If you guess Milan you are correct!! I think that makes three times I’ve been there now? This trip though was by far my favorite one to Milan. I really enjoyed the Milano Porta Nuova piazza/complex thing. The architects did a very good job at making sure all the parts of the complex mesh well. I really enjoyed the modern piazza fountain and center area. Next on my list of things I enjoyed…the jungle gym!!! A short sketch break turned into twenty minutes of ropes courses and photoshoots. That area of town though is going to be quite fantastic. With the completion of the three towers, the Zaha Hadid Residences and the Daniel Libeskind Residences, that central plaza area is going to get a lot of attention.
I really enjoyed Pavia and Vigevano. I think my favorite part of our trip was actually not having to worry about public transportation. I don’t mind public transit at all, and I think it’s a great thing, but when you have legs that are as long as mine, you can never find a seat that doesn’t try to cut off your knees or comes close to the correct amount of legroom; having two whole seats to myself was heaven. Aside from having knee-room, I really enjoyed seeing the Monastery of Pavia. We were given a guided tour by a monk that lives/ works there, who was much more down to earth than I ever gave any monk credit for. It was really interesting to be shown a historic cathedral and monastery by someone who really uses it and understands it. Finally, we went to Vigevano and hung out in the Castello Piazza off of the main city center Piazza. This piazza was the first one I have encountered that was grass and not stone. People were able to sit in the grass and just hang out. Even though it was raining off and on, most of us sat down in the grass and enjoyed the quiet that Vigevano offers. I liked the piazza so much that I even sketched it!
We’ve finally made it past the large group work and are now in smaller groups working on our urban scale proposals. The group I am in is focusing on giving the area around the Lanterna back to Genoa by building platforms at the same height as the ground around the Lanterna to connect it back to the city (more or less). I really like our idea, but I’m very ready to be done with group work. I’ve got a lot of ideas about what I want the gathering spaces in our proposal to look like, but don’t want to move ahead until we have the proposal finalized. Despite all of my feelings about studio, I’m really looking forward to going to Scotland and Ireland for my independent travel. Heres to hoping I’ll have fresh ideas when I come back!