Antoniuskirche interior- Moser

Interior of the Antoniuskirche (St. Anthony’s Church) by Karl Moser in Basel, Switzerland.

The sketchercise challenge was to try making two views in the same location. One view focused on the distant background (left), and one focused on the foreground (right).

Views from the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein

vitra

Views from the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Including The Vitra Fire Station by Zaha Hadid, Petrol Station by Jean Prouvé, Geodesic Dome by Richard Buckminster Fuller, Conference Pavilion by Tadao Ando, Vitra Design Museum by Frank Gehry, and the new Vitrahaus & Lounge Chair Atelier by Herzog and de Meuron.

Villa Muller by Adolf Loos

Müllerova vila, (“Villa Müller”) by Adolf Loos in Prague, Czech Republic. Loos’ raumplan at its finest.

“My architecture is not conceived in plans, but in spaces (cubes). I do not design floor plans, facades, sections. I design spaces. For me, there is no ground floor, first floor, etc…For me, there are only contiguous, continual spaces, rooms, anterooms, terraces, etc. Storeys merge and spaces relate to each other.”

Stoa of Attalos

Stoa of Attalos in the ancient Athenian Agora in modern-day Athens, Greece.

We had a discussion on the reconstruction of ancient ruins in order to experience them in their former glory. My notes on the topic read:

“Original ruins vs reconstruction

-value of space vs value of building

-Buddhism/Taoism-constant rebuilding

Agora-change of occupation; cultural change Greek>Roman>Modern Greek

-What is the most important artifact?

-digging through stratigraphy of historical layers

-reconstruct Greek ruins? Byzantine?

Notes on ancient ruins and cities: Corinth vs Delphi vs Mycenae

Notes on ancient ruins and cities: Corinth vs Delphi vs Mycenae.

My ramblings comparing the ancient cities of Corinth, Pompeii, Delphi, and Mycenae. I don’t know how interesting this is, but I’m posting anyway!

It reads:

“Corinth vs Delphi vs Mycenae

-‘apples to oranges’ argument of comparison.

-clear procession up hill (Mycenae) / flat of Corinth

-Corinth as Nolli map-great piazza!

-layers of history

-Delphi, Mycenae, & Pompeii “frozen in time” vs Corinth & Athens which were continuously inhabited

Athens, Rome, Venice, London

-keep historical cities from becoming museums

notion of ground plane

-small changes in section can have a big impact

-plane of ground, water

-anything on Delphi’s site would be good

Athens-history of city is walled off from locals (Acropolis museum, the Acropolis itself, etc)

-Temple of Herculean Zeus walled off-could be great park

St. Peter’s

‘Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano’, the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, Italy by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo Buonarotti, Gianlorenzo Bernini, et al. 

Here it is, the big mack daddy of all Christian churches. It didn’t impress me nearly as much as the Pantheon. I think it had to do with the way in which you enter and experience the building; like cattle. St. Peter’s has to deal with so many tourists every day that even simply getting through the front door is a huge airport-TSA-line-like affair. Once you are inside it’s fine, and you’re free to explore, but the procession they’ve set up is hell in the Italian sun. I spent most of my time inside gawking at Michelangelo’s Pietà than actually looking at the building.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon, built by Marcus Agrippa (and rebuilt by Domitian, Trajan, and Hadrian), in Rome, Italy. Today known as “Santa Maria dei Martiri” (“St. Mary and the Martyrs” or “Santa Maria Rotonda”.

The inscription on the front of the building reads, “M.AGRIPPA.L.F.COS.TERTIUM.FECIT” (“Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, having been consul three times, built it”). Agrippa’s house-for-every-god is home to only one these days, but fewer ethereal tenants has not diminished its splendor. Septimius Severus and Caracalla repaired the Pantheon and left another inscription “Pantheum vetustate corruptum cum omni cultu restituerunt” (With every refinement they restored the Pantheon worn by age) for a good reason.

It is absolutely amazing.

Our hotel was just around the corner from the Pantheon (down the alley from Santa Maria sopra Minerva), though we didn’t see it when we arrived. It was only later when we were out exploring that we popped around and suddenly were in Piazza della Rotonda. I instantly got goosebumps, and without any conscious volition, began to weep. It was an incredible, genuine somatic experience. This incredible building, which you’ve heard about, read about, studied, watched documentaries on the History channel, and seen in pictures your entire life was suddenly real; standing right in front of you. Full of people, birds flying around, musicians, cafes, street vendors selling squashy rubber tomatoes; the Pantheon is alive and well.

The interior was equally, if not more, impressive. You can’t help but be humbled by that dome. You’re happy to get a crick in your neck from staring upwards for far longer than you should, just to examine every cranny of coffering and of course, the oculus. You feel kind of bad for the people that attend church service there. It must be basically impossible with the gawkers milling about, bringing their pagan-respecting awe filth in your holy space.

When you’re in an intact building which has been around for nearly 2000 years, it’s hard not to be filled with a little awe.

The Colosseum

‘Il Colosseo’, The Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

My God, the Colosseum. Largest elliptical amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, smack-dab in the center of Rome. Vespasian’s baby must have been a beauty in her day, and is still a sight to see. Another major checkmark on my life-list, and another site begging for an augmented reality application; we want to see this thing in its heyday! As ruins go, this one is a little easier to imagine fully constructed, simply because there’s a lot of it left. Even though the place was as packed with tourists as any site in Rome, I never felt herded along like I did at the Vatican. I would love to return here one day on the off-season and get the deluxe tour, or even just wander around aimlessly for awhile and imagine the cheers of 50,000 gladiatorial spectators.

The Roman Forum

foro romano

‘Foro Romano’, The Roman Forum in Rome, Italy.

We saw so many ruins at the beginning of our most recent trip to Europe. So much rubble can start to get a little boring. Minus a few exceptions, when you’ve seen one toppled column and pottery fragment-you’ve seen them all. However, the Roman Forum was one of those exceptions. It’s hard not to be impressed when you’re standing in the thick of it. You just yearn for some way to see it in its former splendor. C’mon geeks-put out some kind of augmented reality rig so I can see these ruins rebuild themselves. Better yet, give me an iPhone app. Personally, I have a totally inflated and unrealistically romantic ~idea~ of history, so I couldn’t help but be in awe by the fragments of human achievement I was surrounded by. The old saying, “They just don’t build ’em like they used to,” is appropriate. I wonder how many of our modern glass and steel boxes will still be around a couple hundred years from now. And I wonder if they’ll look this good.

Views from Villa Guilia

Views from Villa Guilia by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, Bartolomeo Ammanati, and Giorgio Vasari in Rome, Italy.

This was intended to be a refreshing respite from the hot dinginess of the city. I’m sure it was incredible ‘back-in-the-day’, but these days, the water garden grotto was more of a swampy pit. I imagine it’s hard to up-keep when they don’t charge admission… Overall, the place was in decent condition, it just needed a good scrub and some patches here and there. You couldn’t actually access the Nymphaeum grotto area (bottom middle) with the statues-which is exactly where I wanted to be on that sweaty afternoon, but the semi-circular Vignola courtyard (top right) was nice and shady and fairly impressive as a sketch (I did the procession-view style, so mine doesn’t do it justice. Some of my students got nice drawings out of it though!).

The Spanish Steps

‘Scalinata della Trinita dei Monti’, The Spanish Steps by Alessandro Specchi and Francesco de Sanctis in Rome, Italy.

Ah, the Spanish Steps, absolutely classic. Definitely a huge check box on my life-list. Over the course of my recent trip to Europe, I became interested in outdoor public spaces. I tried compiling a list of attributes of successful public spaces. The list includes things like; shade tree, places to sit, children’s play areas, cafes open to the square, furniture, fountains, pedestrian/bike zones, etc. The Spanish Steps don’t have all of those qualities, but they are incredibly successful as an active public space. The place is heavy with history, and the feeling of being in a quintessential Italian space negates the need for a playground or extra shade trees.

Plus, street vendors selling squashy rubber tomatoes!

Views from Villa Lante by Vignola in Bagnaia, Italy.

I created a narrative as I was walking through the gardens; treating the procession as some kind of epic journey/quest for the holy grail.

1. “Sculpture points the way forward to ascent. What lies ahead?
2. "A path diverted. A choice… Which is the true path? The mystical plantings raise more questions…”
3. “Greeted by a water choir-a shady respite on our journey.”
4. “Stopping for a snack with giants. Water fountains tower ahead making us seem even smaller.”
5. “Natural elements become a staircase. Walls made of shrubbery, a refreshing handrail. The Holy Grail is within our grasp.”
6. “The true reward-not the grail, but the eternal source."