Our first design exercise came to an end on Monday and we have now begun the second and final architecture project of the semester. As I mentioned earlier, our initial project of the year brought art and architecture students together to propose various site interventions in the historic Rioni (districts) of Rome. The assignment was intentionally ambiguous and resulted in a series of wildly diverse proposals–buildings, installations, projections and surfaces inserted throughout the city to enable a new reading/understanding of the past.
I will venture to say that the most difficult aspect of the project had nothing to do with architecture; it had everything to do with group dynamics. Coordinating the efforts and ideas of three randomly assigned students is a formidable task. Some collaborations were bountiful, some were battlefields. In some cases collaboration never occurred and a single student took responsibility for the entire “group” project. But now that the experience has come to an end, we can push our frustration aside and reflect positively on a genuine “learning experience.”
At the final review, I was actually very happy with my group’s project. We proposed building a didactic entryway into the Roman Forum to offer visitors a better understanding of the “historical layering” that has occurred there. We were intrigued by the idea of stratification and essentially created an architectural manifestation of that idea (yes, I was slightly influenced by my archaeology job this summer).
When the review came to an end, our professors changed gears and presented the latest assignment: a brownfield redevelopment at the periphery of Rome. Over the next two months, we will each design a mixed-use complex with a prescribed amount of residential, office, and retail space. We have been asked to develop the project both pragmatically and conceptually using foam and paper models. The studio space is about to get a whole lot messier.