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Roma: Under the Blistering Heat

Amidst the high temperatures and landmarks swarming with tourists, we embarked in an unforgettable summer in the Eternal City. Shade was precious in every corner that it lingered, and the Roman fountains were sweet relief to the unbearable heat. Our daily walks took us exploring Rome’s unrivaled archeological sites, prominent architecture, and the occasional gelato.  Accompanied with our sketchbooks, cameras, and hats we took on the challenge of leading by example and doing what the Romans do as we immersed ourselves in a four week adventure.

Ciao for now!


Idroscalo: This Is Not Rome As We Know It

The Roma studio recently completed their Chronographic Design Investigation by interrogating The Edge, The Village, The Strata, and The House of the quite forgotten and much neglected informal settlement of Idroscalo.  This truly unique settlement situated just outside of Rome and near Ostia Antica, introduced students to an unlikely appreciation of the edge conditions and modern day Italian vernacular architecture. Amidst the fresh sea air lies a juxtaposition of conditions, the old and the new, the broken walls and the barriers, and the numerous dogs jumping on rooftops. This summer studio exploration truly sought to define chronophilia in Italian living.

Ciao for now!


Un Giorno di Neve!!

When we were preparing for our trip to Rome, we knew it was going to be cold.  We were told that the wind would be so cold that we would feel it cut through our bones.  This is all true.  But some unexpected and highly unlikely snow made it all worth it!  We were sitting in studio in the middle of the day when all of a sudden we looked outside and saw massive snowflakes falling from the sky.  As soon as studio was over, we all ran outside to experience the eternal city in a completely different way.  It was utterly breathtaking to experience a moment of shared silence and awe with hundreds of Italians merely standing and staring at the snow fall through the oculus.  The following day consisted of walking from piazza to piazza experiencing the once familiar settings in a completely new and foreign manner.  Considering the fact that it has not snowed that much in Rome since the 80’s, it well definitely go down as one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in Roma!

Ciao for now!

The Forum

We recently went on a trip to see the Roman Forum, which was amazing! The forum acts as an architectural diagram, in which thousands of years of development are manifested through a layering of buildings and materials. Although much of the area is in ruins today, Paulette did an amazing job explaining what was once there, which allowed us to fill in the rest of the image. Within the Forum, many of the preserved ruins tell stories of history, such as the Arch of Septimius, which was erected in 203 AD in order to celebrate the imperial triumph over the Parthians. As we walked throughout the Forum,It became evident just how layered the city of Rome really is. After our trip to the Forum, Paulette and Gerry invited us over to their terrace to enjoy the delicacies of Rome. As we were atop the balcony, we watched the sun set over the horizon, creating a perfect ending to the day.

Esposizione Universale Roma_EUR

Travertine, fascism, and more travertine: aka EUR.  EUR is a city envisioned and partially realized by Benito Mussolini and differs radically from the center of Rome.  Instead of having small cobblestone streets and alleys that wind through highly densified neighborhoods, EUR is reminiscent of common American cities: large avenues, green grass, and urban sprawl.  The most interesting area we visited, aside from the new Fuksas project, was the Museo della Civilta Romana (Museum of Roman Civilization).  This museum holds hundreds of plaster casts of Roman artifacts ranging from antiquity through the height of the Roman Empire.  These casts were utterly amazing!  Until I was told they were plaster casts, I was under the impression that they were the original ancient artifacts.  At the culmination of the museum is a massive, and I mean MASSIVE, model of Rome as it existed at the height of the Roman Empire.  It was extremely detailed and took up about a 40ft by 40 ft room.  We spent well over an hour just staring at the model and trying to figure out where everything belongs as it exists today.  After we departed from the museum we were left to our own devices to get back to Rome.  Naturally as architecture students, we all wanted to go see the new Massimiliano Fuksas building that is under construction just a few blocks from the museum.  A few of us were lucky enough to gain access to the roof of a hotel across the street, allowing us a glimpse of the massive scale of the interior of the ‘cloud’ described by Fuksas.  It was an incredibly awe inspiring experience and the perfect way to round off the trip, balancing the fascist, and slightly modernist, side of Rome with the possibilities of contemporary architecture.  Simply inspirational.

Ciao for now!


Today, our Six Ecologies teacher Ferro took us Southeast to a housing complex called Corviale. To put the size of the complex into perspective, he compared it to the Empire State building, just put on its side. The reality is, the Empire state building is 443 meters high and Corviale is 1000 meters long! As we arrived, we were greeted by a facade that makes you feel miniscule in comparison. The size almost seemed surreal at first glimpse, but as we walked through and around the building, we realized just how long it took to walk from one end to the other. A local Priest , and friend of Ferro, was kind enough to sit down with us and give us a history of the complex as well as answer our questions. The most striking thing for me about Corviale, besides its massive size, was the fact that it housed 9,000 people, and only 70% of those people actually pay rent! The experience of being in such a large complex was breathtaking and contemplative. I say contemplative because it caused a discussion of “Is this type of architecture good?” and as we all know, those conversations can lead to extremely interesting places.  All in all, neither words nor pictures could do justice to the experience of being at Corviale.

Biblioteca Vallicelliana

An architectural investigation of Baroque Rome simply wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the library designed by Francesco Borromini in Piazza della Chiesa Nuova.  We went on a slow day and were able to access one of the archives holding countless books written and bound in vellum.  These books are hundreds to thousands of years old…talk about mind blowing!  The moderator was gave us a large amount of history surrounding the library and life of Borromini (translated by Paulette thank goodness) and the trip culminated with the opportunity to go through a transcription of original etchings by Borromini himself.  The amount of detail and precision in the drawings was awe inspiring, not to mention intimidating.  The combination of the architecture of the library and etchings created a once in a lifetime experience, allowing us to appreciate the work of a true master of architecture.  A visit to La Biblioteca Vallicelliana is an absolute must!

Ciao for now!