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OBSERVATIONS: Rome Diary 1

Rome, Italy
17 January 2012
(uncensored)



Two days of walking in the streets of Rome.
First impressions are much of what was to be expected.  The streets are quieter still than I imagined.  Nearly all restaurants and bars sit quiet.
Last evening i popped into a pub to watch the Manchester City fixture.  Barely a sole was in the bar until half past ten.   Even then, it was no more than two dozen, including staff and JC, occupying the space.
Perhaps that condition can be attributed to Monday, but my feeling is that the condition will persist.
Despite a fair number of cars and people on the street (during the day), Rome feels much more...provincial, than New York.  Perhaps provincial is not the correct term for a place that has remained an urban capital for 2500 years.
In this condition, if not in that of vibrancy, rome excels.  I do not believe that i have visited a place so entirely urban (physical).
In comparison, New York, Paris, London, et al, have portions of their cities that read as first or second generation development.  Areas that will take another generation or two to flush out; revive, reestablish, and tweak in the coming centuries.
Conversely, Rome reads tightly.
Each block reads as a meticulous injection into a rigorous and tense fabric.
Articulating this most effectively are the streets and sidewalks, or rather the lack of such.
Uniform pavers articulate no difference between auto and pedo.
Major vias, arcades, and infrastructure (bridges, etc) articulate (some) difference; however, these instances apply out of necessity.  Traffic volume, building form, or rivers demand a changed condition, otherwise the standard remains.
Such an arrangement facilitates, the uniform reading of urbanism.  Fussgangerzone are not well enforced, though occasionally a fence or blockade will be erected to prevent stray autos or scooters from zipping through.  
Yesterday (Day 01) I was fortunate to visit several of Bernini's creations.  The Church of the Four Fountains was closed, but his masterful creation (Church of Saint Andrew's at the Quirinal) across from the Papal Residence was open.
A Baroque masterpiece, this church continued so much architectural energy.  Space and Gravity seemed to suspend within this theological hallucination.  I found the use of red marble, corinthian columns flanking the alter (and red brick outside) to be an incredibly effective use of 'Earth' as red, whilst divinity (humans? angels) are given preferential treatment (of materials).  Their white marble figures pop out (no doubt assisted by the sculptural dynamism).
Also considerable to comment on is the 'parametric' treatment of the dome.  Hexagonal coffers are reduced in scale as the dome rises, offering an exaggerated perspective up to the oculus, from which heavenly cherubs descent.
Would such mannerism bee effective if the strict proportional character of rome or the idyllic character of the 17c. church be possible?  Initial verdict would seem not.



Details from a coffer
- double rows of egg and dart (perimeter)
- eggs @ the corners
- hexagonal flower done with positive relief is inside of a central blank space (girosole?) 
- geometry divides the module into approximate thirds


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