Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Ligurian Coast

Genoa is the capital of Liguria, a coastal region in Italy.  As a port city, the port is very much the center and heart of Genoa.  The villas follow the terracing of the land and stack up the hillside directing all of the views down into the port and out to the sea.  

The port redevelopment Master plan by Renzo Piano has helped to reconnect people to their port, from which they were divided by sea wall and elevated road for many years.  Now the port is the largest tourist attraction in Genoa, with an aquarium, Il Bigo (a lift for panoramic views), shopping, and restaurants.  Il Bigo, with its allusion to port architecture, is now the centerpiece of the port.      

Many of us have traveled to other nearby locations on the Ligurian coast.  The closest frequented location is still within Genoa, but just south of the center: Genoa-Nervi.  Here a boardwalk extends along the rocky shore, allowing people to stroll up and down the coastline, stopping for gelato or a visit to the art museum.  

Even further south, but only a thirty-minute train ride from Genoa central, is Santa Margherita with a connection to Portofino.  Portofino, famous as a luxury vacation spot for yachters worldwide, is just a short boat or bus ride away from Santa Margherita.  Here the limited development surrounding the natural harbor transforms quickly into forests that extend up the hills.  The castle and lighthouse elevated above, provide beautiful views out to where the earth, water and sky meet.

Another popular weekend destination for our group has been Cinque Terre.  This area, perhaps made famous by Rick Steves, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Ligurian coast that includes five agricultural villages with hiking trails between.  These small villages punctuate the landscape with their bright colors.  The villages, again centered on the water, with the terraced hillsides behind them exhibit a continuity between architecture and landscape.  These colorful rugged blocks are stacked up the hills seeming that they have always been there.  Hiking between the villages provides fantastic views as you travel from each unique village to the next.

The places along the Ligurian coast that we have had the chance to visit while here in Genoa have consistently provided insight into the relationship between architecture, land and sea.  The vernacular architecture reveals an understanding of the rocky terrain and the importance of the sea.  The buildings built in this region seem integrated into the landscape with their rough colorful exteriors focused on the sea.           

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Thermal Baths - Peter Zumthor

Earlier in the semester I joked about going to the2009 Pritzker winner, Peter Zumthor’s Thermal Baths, a spa located in a small village in the middle of Switzerland called Vals, with no real intention of making the trek.  However, during our individual travels this past semester [March 2009], with only a vague understanding of the project that was literally built in and from the Swiss Alps, I was lucky enough to make the adventure to Vals, Switzerland to share an experience of a lifetime with my new fiancé [engaged 2 days prior in Cinque Terre]. 

We stayed three nights while two of my colleagues and one’s girlfriend joined us for an evening in Vals also.  We stayed in one of the newly renovated Zumthor rooms where he carried his edge detail from the therme into the shower creating a reveal for water to drain into.  This relates to the same edge detail we saw earlier in the semester at the Kunsthaus Bregenz; Zumthors art museum in Bregen, Austria.  

At the Therme, Zumthor works primarily in volumes and voids, cutting the material, that being of the local quartzite, away to create a cave like experience; an experience where you were forced to wander and discover the space and the architecture.  Contained within these volumes were separate baths of all different experiences.  These included the fire bath [42®C], ice bath [14®C], Flower Bath [33®C], and the Sound Bath [35®C].  These volumes are highlighted by the ‘expansion joint’ which allows a slit of light into the spa.  The general consensus was that the Sound Bath was the largest, but you must experience these spaces for yourself and make your own decision.

Zumthor creates an atmosphere you can only begin to understand by physically and emotionally experiencing the space.  These spaces are always changing, whether it is by the ever changing floors due to the wet footprints charting the traffic through the space or the angry Swiss men staring at you as you enter one of the caves with only their eyes above the water as though they were alligators ready to strike; these spaces are timeless. 

Following are a few sketches of a colleague of mine and my experiences in the space…

The thermes website:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blog Changes

Hey all!! 

Just wanted to make you aware of a change to our class blog that you might be interested in. To the right, you see a column with all of our names listed in alphabetical order. Previously, each of us were linked to the blog's website so that you could always return to our homepage at any time while visiting.  

Being that we are all contributing to the blog this semester, we have decided to link our names to our personal posts so that you have the chance to see who shared personal experiences for the various trips we are taking throughout the semester. 

Hope this helps you navigate through the blog site a little better. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Our 2nd 10 Day Trip: Venice, Padova, Vicenza, and Bologna, Part 2

On April 8th, we visited Villa Rotonda in the morning. We were very exciting because Villa Rotonda is one of the famous villa designed by Andre Palladio. Villa Rotonda has a very unique layout. It has four symmetrical façade with project portico. The interior of the villa is filled with beautiful fresco painting. The central hall of the villa is surrounded by a balcony and covered by a dome ceiling.

In the afternoon we visited the Teatro Olimpico with Dr. Wilma Barbieri. The theater was also designed by Andre Palladio. The stage inside of the theater use false perspective to make the background seem farther away.

Walking toward Villa Rotonda 

Teatro Olimpico designed by Andre Palladio

Interior of Teatro Olimpico 

On April 9th we went to the city of Verona for a day. Some of us visited the Verona Arena that is famous for opera performance.  Later in the afternoon we went to Museo Di Castel Vecchio designed by Carlo Scarpa. 

Verona Arena 

Currently building the supports for the stage 

Castel Vecchio by Carlo Scarpa 

Interior of Castel Vecchio 

Concrete steps in Castel Vecchio 

Use the wrong foot and see what will happen 

On April 10th we arrived to Bologna the last major city for our ten days trip. The hotel that we stayed was wonderful because it was located in the middle of the city next to Piazza Maggiore. We walked around the city on our own in the morning and meet up with Dr. Anna Brini in the afternoon for a guided cultural tour. We walked around the medieval market and tried out some of the famous chocolates in Bologna. At the end of our tour, we were surprised by the cold cut tasting meal. 

One of the shop designs by Carlo Scarpa in Bologna 

Cultural guided tour with Dr. Anna Brini 


On April 11th we went to Parma for a one day trip. We visited the Piazza dalla Pace, Duomo, Battistero, Auditorium Paganni and the Cimitero di San Cataldo. 

Niccolo Paganini Auditorium design by Renzo Piano 

April 12th, the last day of our ten days trip was Eastern Sunday, we went to Museum of Modern art in the morning and some of us went to church service afterward. At the end of the day we came back to Genoa to our wonderful Daniel Center.

Sketches from our trip:

Sketch of Villa Rotonda 

Sketch of interior of Villa Rotonda 

Student sleeping on the train to Bologna 

Another student sleeping 

Piazza Maggiore 

Our 2nd 10 Day Trip: Venice, Padova, Vicenza, and Bologna, Part 1

Let all be forewarned, I am not a blogger so if you choose not to continue to read my post, I will not be offended. That said, let me briefly put to words 5 days of travel in Venice, Padova, and a little Vicenza. Po Tin will tell you all about the second half of our trip in the next post.

We started the trip like pretty much any other trip we’ve gone on, at 6 in the morning. The train ride was long and rather uneventful, but arriving in Venice was amazing. We have all gotten used to and come to expect rain on these trips, so we were all stoked to find blue skies and the sun shining once we got out of the train station. After taking a water “bus” and dropping our things off at the hotel, we had lunch then started our tour with San Marco Piazza. We did a few sketched, went into the Basilica, then went over to the neighboring piazzetta to see Palazzo Ducale and Liberia Marciano, the “library” in the Indiana Jones movie (Giuditta broke the news to many in our group that the interior scenes were not actually in that library). We then ended the official educational part of the day at Ponte di Rialto. 

Libreria Marciano

Bridge over a canal beside our hotel in Venice

The rest of our time in Venice was all pretty amazing. April 4th we saw Chiesa della Salute, where we were told by a church employee not to sketch. Yes, apparently it is ok to take pictures, but it is rude to sketch… After that we went to Punto Della Dogana, Casa Alle Zatlere, The Palladian Churches on Giudecca, Giardini della Biennale, and Carlo Scarpa’s Negozio Olivetti and Fondazione Querini Stampalia. April 5th we went to Murano, my personal favorite part of Venice, saw glass blowing and shopped for souvenirs. We headed back to the main island just in time to see the Calatrava Bridge on our way to tour reserved tour of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. That night some of us wrapped up Venice with more souvenir shopping and dinner on the water.

Glass blowing 

Lighthouse on Murano Island  

Monday, April 6th we left Venice for Padova by train, arriving around 10:30am. We walked to the hotel and split up for lunch and exploration until 5pm for a tour of Cappella degli Scrovegni. We were given a few places of interest to check out so some of us went to Prato della Valle for a picnic lunch then went to see the Teatro Anatomico which was pretty interesting. Some people went to see the Botanical Gardens and a special on Galileo. The next day we took a bus to see the Palladian Villas, the Museo Gipsoteca di Possagno (Scarpa), and the Scarpa Cemetery in San Vito di Altivole. We ended the day by heading to our hotel in Vicenza. 

Villa Emo 

Scarpa Cemetery

I’ve been somewhat long winded so I will try to wrap up my half of the post for the trip. Summary: Venice was amazing! We had sun pretty much the entire time which was “new” to us. Padova was nice because of the freedom to pick what we saw. And lastly, architecture by Palladio and Scarpa are the things to see if you go to North Eastern Italy.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Our 7th Day Trip: Lucca

After about an hour long bus ride, our first stop of the day began at the beautiful, Villa Reale Di Marlia and the surrounding garden spaces.  The quant Villa dates back as early as the 16th century and is surrounded by lush green gardens, open green lawns, water features and statues.  Being the only two landscape architecture students of the group, Drew Cheatham and I were especially excited about this visit.  

Pictures of the Villa: 

Pictures of the surrounding garden spaces:

This picture is of the “garden theatre,” which was my favorite part of the landscape.   In this space, yew hedges were used to mock the curtains, seating, foot lights and stage of a theatre. 

More pictures of the surrounding garden spaces: 

We spent the entire morning here because there was so much to see! 
Here are a few sketches:

Sketch by Graham Sinclair

Sketch by Heather Nelson

Sketch by Heather Nelson 

Afterwards, we hopped on the bus again and made are way to our second and final stop: the historical district of Lucca.  Compared to the highly populated cities of Rome and Florence, Lucca was a very quiet town.  It was a unique place, full of old churches, little piazzas, towers and family businesses.    

We were able to explore the city a good bit and see the following places:

Duomo San Martino 

Piazza e Chiesa di San Michele

Torre Guinigi

Piazza Anfiteatro