4/19/14 – New Inbetweenness

New Inbetweenness

This is another drawing of spatial ‘slippage’ between scaffold and building. There is a new urban ‘inbetweenness’ that begs to be explored: a chance to measure ourselves against our architectures; to live between fantasy and reality; to witness the details and decay of our own creations.

The hourglass is running out on our time in Rome. I have one page left in my tan sketchbook. I admit I chose tan a bit prematurely back in St. Louis, but it turned out to be a nice ‘ruin’ base from which to push and pull light and shadow. I will probably start to segue into posting studio work from here on out.

Happy Easter

4/17/14 – St. Mark’s Cathedral



There was an immense scaffold signalling restoration at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice last week. i was interested in capturing the complex forms of the scaffold itself, as a parasitic-approaching-autonomous figure. Here the scaffold is veiled one step further by a translucent mesh, making it feel even more removed from context, as an individual building.st. marks photoThe situation reminded me of recent SOM Travel Scholarship Fellow James Leng’s Air Ops project, (the first in his portfolio submission) looking for autonomous energy solutions for New York City post Hurricane Sandy – realizing it through an elevated, parasitic armature for energy exchange.


4/16/14 – Carlo Scarpa and the Geometric Field

geometric fields

We returned Sunday night from our ‘North Field Trip’ during which we explored the works of Carlo Scarpa in Verona, San Vito d’Altivole and Venice. There is far too much to be said/shown of the trip (Perugia as urban explorer’s paradise, Palladio and the ‘elastic’ Serlian Order, designing nostalgia at the Tomba Brion) but I should really maintain a thread of consistency with my drawing study, so this sketch is of an imposed geometric field/scaffold at Castelvecchio.

Scarpa was able to respond to the irrational forms of medieval architecture by superimposing these measured, geometric fields. The result is an architecture that has both the precision of modernity and the spontaneity and strata of collage. Many of the spaces feel like inhabiting one enormously intricate detail, and in that realization demand to be touched and seen from every angle in order to be understood. Scarpa is famously quoted for his ‘drawing to understand/learn’, and these spaces remind us of how beautiful architecture can be when it is an extension of manual and tactile thinking.

I am interested in how we are reacting architecturally to the rational forms of modernity in the myriad of contemporary adaptive re-use projects that preoccupy our postindustrial cities. Will future reactions be a return to primitive/irrational forms? Is it as simple as Kieran/Timberlake’s mass customization over mass production? A sort parametric/digital liberation? My hope is that we find ways that are as sensitive and complimentary to modernity as Scarpa was to the medieval context in which he designed.


Fosse ArdeatineA five minute break from studio to post a sketch I did insitu at the remarkable Fosse Ardeatine, a space I am certain will show up in my dreams long after I return home from Rome. It is deserving of its own post, so I will simply leave this here for now.

Classes are on a rapid trajectory towards the finish line, with history, ‘neighborhoods’ and studio approaching deadlines before our north ‘Scarpa’ Field Trip next Wednesday, so I will be posting a little less than I’d like. Mi dispiace.


3/30/14 – Chiesa di San Valentino

Chiesa di San Valentino

This is a study of Chiesa di San Valentino  by architect Francesco Berarducci, a sacred space in the 1960′s Olympic neighborhood/Flaminio district. Here there is some semblance of a marriage between the analytical and archaeological scaffold.


In plan the space is organized by means of a rigid modulation or generative scaffold. In my drawing I try to emphasize via diagram the simple strategy of establishing a planar module, then pushing and pulling separate modules to create volumes of space that allow for the admittance of light.


The effect is a space with a type of overhead scaffolding, that feels not unlike an archaeological site (or perhaps more aptly, due to its location in the quartiere, some type of overhead space for standing spectators).
archaeological site

Notice also in plan the simple graphic that carries the visitor from the street to the sacred. [I wish I had known about this project when I was working on my alleyway chapel project in 302...the thesis of which was that a simple deviation from the street/norm in combination with intimate light is all it takes for a spiritually rewarding moment...of course one of my teachers would be quick to point out that this church too has a gate! (mine did not...)]



Concept Diagram


What happens when the generative scaffold (see last posts), is superimposed with the enveloping scaffold?

The enveloping scaffold being one that veils, but also breaks up a form, simultaneously  shrouding the whole while revealing its parts. A ‘symbolically’ reconstructive tool, in that it communicates a restorative effort, and ‘visually’ archaeological tool, in that it illuminates fragments.

Are they so unnerving/captivating because they, unlike their generative counterparts, were not designed in relation to mathematical ratios and our bodily proportions? Clearly they have an analytic of their own: significant mathematics that lead to their addition and subtraction, and human occupation. Perhaps what is so interesting is that these un-bodily, or ‘less bodily’ constructs appear in such an  ephemeral way, parasitically clinging to massive antiquated forms.

Of course these massive forms are themselves ‘clinging to life’, victim to the degradation of time and pollution. In this way the enveloping scaffold clings to that which clings to life. A doctor who needs a patient, in order to exist as a doctor.

When the reconstructive job is done the enveloping scaffold disappears, the antiquated form it once enveloped that much further from its inevitable return to the earth.

[My philosophy thought for the day...this time from Nietzsche]
Trying to rationalize the grid (THE rational element) takes time. So much time that I realize I am hungry, an instinctual feeling. Must…fulfill…animalistic…desire…for sustenance. Once that desire is satiated I return to ‘loftier’ pursuits, until I feel the grumbles of a ‘lesser’ call to nature, and realize I am trapped in a constant struggle. Perhaps the least, or best I can do is elevate that struggle into art. …drawing to learn once again.