Archive for February, 2010

Studio: Midcrit part 1

Hello all.  Since I’m writing this blog (supposedly) and my family and friends are trying to read it and finding it not updated i figured i might as well show you why!  So this is the first solid iteration of my project.  It was supposed to be a midcrit (which is graded) except we’ve had like two desk crits which is not nearly enough to have a solid project generally speaking. I should probably explain what that meant.  (skip the next paragraph if you know what a crit is)

Crits (or “critiques” but we never call them that) are when you have people look at your work and give you criticism.  There are three main kinds in my life.  Desk crits are at your desk (duh) and is just your teacher.  They’re informal and they are to give you feed back at every step of your project, so you don’t get to far off a good track. You don’t generally get exact assigned work, you show them what you’ve been working on and discuss.  You should be using the drawing they want to see to design your project anyway.  That is what I generally have studio class for.  Pin ups are more formal, but ungraded.  They give you a chance to formalize your stuff and put it together neatly so you can see where the problems are.  Sometimes several students pin up at the same time and if the teacher ever stops talking (unlikely admittedly) you can get feedback from them too, which is generally great.  Real crits generally mean you go in front of a panel of judges (generally your teacher and whatever architects they can drag out of their studios and plant in front of you.  Often friends or colleges of your teacher, although once my teacher’s teacher came and gave us a midcrit. We liked him he told us great stories about our awesome but daunting manual rep teacher).  You general get two per project, once in the middle (midcrit) and once at the end (final crit).  Midcrits focus on how to drive your project forward, final crits are about what else you should have done and whether what you’ve got is successful.  Crits generally produce good metaphors, which i should totally discuss at another time before i get to off track.  Ok lecture done. Wait. Nevermind. You need background on my site.

So my site is called Celimontana because its on the bottom of one of the 7 hills of Rome named Celian. It is a triangle and it is a one or two minute walk from the Colosseum. (!!!!!)  It’s got a very long history, ranging from busy valley with a school for imperial pages and a temple to the deified emperor Claudius and a road named the Victus Capitis Africanae (there was a statue about how they conquered Africa around there somewhere.  The school was also named after it).  After Rome was sacked several zillion times and the aqueducts failed people moved to the river, it became a field for sheep and ruins perfect for stealing for palaces and churches and whatnot.  There were also several churches with attached monasteries.  Then rich people built huge villas all over the place to escape the city without going far.  So lots of big gardens and big walls keeping the rabble out so the very rich could play. And by rabble i probably mean the large armed bands of men running around, and other nobles private armies.  Anyway thus it remained (and here i get a little fuzzy i need more researching time) until 1900ish when someone (most likely Mussolini, who is responsable for most major urban changes at the time.  I don’t yet have proof though) decided the ancient road which had survived for millenia really should be straight and cut a different road (via Claudius) for cars and put a grid of buildings on most of it.  Except for my little triangular site, which was built up but now is a unexciting park.  And now I’m supposed to put mixed used and housing program on it!

I thoughtfully added pink dots when i sent the image to my mom. Totally forgot i did that!

I thoughtfully added pink dots when i sent the image to my mom. Totally forgot i did that!

Right so my main concept is to use the architcture to reinvent the road and to let the area rediscover the rich history that disappeared like so much else in the middle ages.  And to do so in a way that is not just another tourist site which locals ignore and avoid, but could also become a thriving community.  So I’m implementing a live/work strategy inter spaced with larger retail and housing areas in hopes of creating a diverse and flexible community.  What i really invision is different kind of workshops and  art studios and stores on the bottom with the owners living above, with the things they need to live close at hand, coffee shops, supermarket, different types of stores and parks for both kids and adults (and maybe even dogs), plus a nice piazza with a fountain.  Hopefully by being a varied and interesting area it would get tourists (and money from them) but without over running it.  That’s my vision anyway, I’m working on making it a (theoretical) reality.  Oh my so much text.  Here are the images.


The progression of my idea from research to an idea to a parti diagram

Aerial Site view

A really zoomed out view of the rooftop gardens (which need much more work)

Ground Floor Plan

Ground floor plan with diagramatic site context. My next step it to figure out what all those colors mean...

Floor Plans

The next three floors. Four will be typical and is completely incorrect there. Green outlines mean its going to be something, I just don't know what yet.


My units are complicated because they are best understood in section. I'll explain below.

Units:  The first units I designed are live/work based.  They are unit type A and have twp workshops on the bottom with the housing above.  One workshop has a small bedroom on the same floor and living space above, with a terrace formed the roof of the workspace below. The other side has a kitchen are on the second floor and the entire third floor is bedrooms and a living room area and the roof it a garden space.   Then i realized that putting 40 of these on the site would be ridiculous and started creating different size retail space, with different apartments above.  Type B uses the area of two workspaces as a medium size storefront with stairs to the second floor apartment outside.  The other side is two, 3 story, live work apartments.  Type C uses the entire ground floor as retail and second and third floors are apartments.  One of the first changes is going to be a shared stair for those apartments.  Type D is not designed yet but will be whatever type of apartment I place in the most north buildings higher floors which aren’t designed yet.

This post has been way more information than I expected, but this way you can actually follow my progress instead of saying “oh look pretty colors” and getting nothing out of it. You are of course free to do that, if everyone loved floor plans I wouldn’t have a major.  And I can only muster up so much interest in lots of other subjects, like anatomy or math or russian history or whatever, so I’d totally get it.  On the other hand if your reading my blog you must have mustered some, and since I personally love stories about Catherine the Great and love being a test subject for my medically inclined friends clearly anything can be found interesting for shortish bursts.  (Except math, numbers are not my thing. If they were I’d be an engineer and actually make money some time before I’m 50. If anyone knows a good way to get out of NU core Math 2 just go tell my adviser to sign me up! Well, actually fractals are pretty cool. See i’m proving my own sleep deprived point).

EDIT:  As of today I got myself (and my entire grade and perhaps everyone else) out of my Math 2 requirement.  I’m quite pleased with myself.  🙂


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Hello. Sorry I’ve been doing so badly writing.  I love writing but it can get lost admit the rest of life unless you really make it a priority.  I learned that lesson writing fan fiction years ago. Those first few weeks were when i had no homework, let alone studio work.  I’m happy to report i really like where my stuff is going and since my crit just ended but I’m not supposed to leave studio I’m taking the enforced time to write you.  You can tell I love you all because my Kindle is next to my elbow but I’m still writing!  Anyway sorry and although i can’t promise it won’t happen again (I’m going to Venice next Tues) i can promise to try!

So, on to the real post.

Pompeii is amazing.  I was sad to find that they apparently close tons of stuff in the off season, and I was annoyed by my teachers attempts to force me to sketch everything when i wanted to be a Latin geek not and Architecture geek, and it was kinda rainy all day but none of that matters to me because its Pompeii.  You get to walk through a (admittedly rather destroyed) city, go into houses and shops and brothels and really understand what life could have been like back then.  So what if the walls are crumbling around you, the wall is there and you can really get the sense that long ago some 20 year old girl was probably walking past were you are standing going about her life.  It makes history real.


The first thing we do when we get there is sketch the basilica, or the law courts of the Forum.  I made a few halfhearted sketches and then started playing tourist.  So here are some pics of Mandi and Mag being good architecture students.  Note Mag is water coloring because she’s a show off (aka I’m crazy jealous of her talent), and Mandi likely has her markers out (although she also watercolors really well).

WatercoloringSketchingBeing artistic

I ran away from the artists to go find the Villa of the Mysterious, with various detours.  So I head back into the forum and start my journey.  On the way I saw all kinds of cool things, which is why this post is going to be crazy long due to pictures. Starting with the forum itself, note the looming volcano…

The Forum

First stop, a house.  Note the very typical layout with impluvium (pool) and hortus (garden) behind.  Roman houses in Pompeii focus inwards and are designed around large courtyards and large open spaces that generally have holes in the roofs (compluvium) to collect water into the impluvium.  The Italian climate is a wondrous thing, no?

Impluvium and Hortus

I go through a cool arch and down an ancient road to find…

Ancient road

A different house, with view into the atrium back to the garden and shrine to the Lares (household gods). And then another house, with a great pool and some columns


Finally after a whole bunch of other cool things were seen (but i can only upload so many pictures) I make it.  It’s a very well preserved building with lots of wall art that is going to be in the next post and cool columns and and pretty courtyard spaces.

Villa of the MysteriesCourtyard

About now I meet up with Mandi and Mag again and we head off to get lost several times (its not big, but the blocked off streets and we got herded in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go). Tourists....Relaxing
We saw some instraments of daily life that have survived both volcanoes and tourists.

Large stone potsGone through the mill

Mandi and I grabbed a sandwich and Mag went back to water coloring made more complicated by drizzle and friendly dogs (the site is a dog shelter).

A girl and her dogsNew friends

We visited the Palestra (gym/field) but couldn’t get to the theaters sadly.

At the (ancient) gym

However we did visit the amphitheater.  I don’t have the amazing shots of umbrella dueling, but i would never want to be a gladiator although I’m pretty good ; )

AmphitheaterWe who are about to die salute you

Next post is already planned, I just have to write it (honestly the tricky part is uploading the pictures).  It may even happen today or tomorrow if I don’t fall asleep. I hate almost over nighters don’t you?

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Cause Sarah is pressuring me to post them and I’m taking a five minute break from studio stuff.

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Hello everyone!  We both apologize for our utter lack of posts but well between architecture and traveling southern italy, well we’ve had little time (and internet) to post.  However I shall post a catch all as soon as i get back to rome, and have internet attached to my pictures (i’m using the hostel’s computer, which is more of a bed and breakfast really except we’re five of us in 3 bunk beds in a small room.  but the beds are really comfy and the FOOD is AMAZING. i’m currently really full and very happy).  In the last week I’ve seen Caecilius’ house again (pompeii), been given a tour of the ruins and by architects and archeologists and tried to help them help their beloved city (both the ancient and modern parts of Herculaneum) seen some of the most spectacular temples and honey ever (Pasteum) and made friends with wood carvers and broke bread with them….well coffee (Sorrento).  And that’s only the parts that sound really cool!

Oh and for those of you wondering where Capri is in all of this, we decided we’d hold that adventure off for when its warmer and the shops are open.  Who really cares about final projects anyway? Hahahaha.  Ciao for now, the stories to come.  Pinky swear. ; )

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