Live+Work+SMdP=One Intense Experience Day 1

Old aerial Perspective of the SMdP

During these past few days we have been working more and more on fixing the place up and also learning about the history behind the Psychiatric ward.  Monday morning we woke up promptly and were up and at-em ready to learn more about where we are living and working.  Our first experience was a visit to the recently established museum that is an interactive exhibit with direct linkage to the psychiatric ward.  Not only does the museum have exhibits explain what had happened in the psychiatric ward, along with stories of patients, it also explained and gave you a first hand experience on what it feels to have a specific mental condition.  Although the museum was provocative and interactive, the curator who was giving us the tour would not shut up… He was definitely a person that likes to hear himself talk.  I bet the tour would have been better if we all got to roam free for at least a half hour and then have him explain every little thing.  The exhibit would def be successful as a public venue where people pay a fee and are allowed to experience it all.

Psychiatric Interactive Museum in SMdP

After the museum adventure, we broke up into pairs for a derive exercise.  I decided to go solo on this adventure so I could experience a true derive that is purely based on my experience.  I walked towards the back of the complex and encountered a series of almost identical abandoned buildings and what were weird slightly immaturely built fountains.  In addition I saw many places around the site that were more pleasant and curious.  After our derives, we all were told to draw on top of an old stage with some concrete as chalk.  It was fun and came out better than I originally thought.  To be honest, I thought it was going to be a waist of time, but the merging of experiences really helped get a sense of the whole site.

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Bracciano + Dinner in the Campo + Jubilee Church = Amazing Weekend

First things first, Santa Maria della Pieta is coming along very slowly and I’m frustrated as hell that nothing is getting done and more complaining is happening than actual work being done.  I bet if half the effort for the complaining was put towards working to help make this place feel like home and function as well, we would be long done.  But I guess this kind of shock is new to people, I have been on camping trips before where conditions were worse and I had to live there for 2 weeks… Whatever a nice weekend away from Pieta was a beautiful experience.

First was the trip to Bracciano and the volcanic lake.  I regret not taking my camera because the views from the train and train station were breath taking, although it revealed a harsh truth.  Lorenzo said that it’s only a short walk to the water from the station.  We forgot about the fact that Lorenzo is a true Stalker and a “short walk” for him is about a 30-40 minute walk.  Additionally, it was all downhill so that means that after the relaxing trip down to get to the lake, we would have to hall ass all the way back up.  But we all were too determined to see this amazing lake and of course swim in it so we traveled down.

The water and the lake were beautiful.  Additionally, there was a bar nearby so I got myself a vodka and pineapple cocktail and laid out on the shore after we swam.  Then I went back in the water to play some volleyball.  Everything was fine until after I got out of the water, I noticed that my ring was no longer on my finger! I freaked out and searched frantically and my worse nightmare was coming true, I had lost my ring in the water… In addition to that I stepped on my sunglasses while trying to find the ring.  Could things get any worse… I ran back into the water and started searching for what seemed like an eternity but no luck.  Eventually, an Italian man approached me and lent me a pair of water goggles that fit perfectly.  I then dove back into the water and searched relentlessly not giving up.  I was getting exhausted at this point and starting making my way back to shore to lie down and catch a breath when all of a sudden a gleam of reflection hit my eyes, IT WAS MY RING! It was wedged between 2 rocks and was sticking straight up as if being put on display at a jewelry store.  I grabbed it as fast as I can, shot up out of the water, and yelled with joy.  My fellow studio mates were amazed but also happy I found my ring.  The walk back up the hill wasn’t as bad because I knew that the ring was on my finger and not lost in the volcanic lake.

That evening a few of us went to dinner at the Campo de Fiori and I had a great time.  Dinner was amazing; the restaurant was the Magnolia at the east end of Campo de Fiori.  It came out to 30 euro a person with wine and 3 courses (we all shared appetizers and deserts).  The food was very good and very Italiano.

Also, I got a great shot of RJ and Joann so they both get Person Pic of the Day.

Person Pic of the Day - RJ and Joann at Campo

The next day RJ was hell bent on seeing the Jubilee church because he had done a case study on it for studio I’m assuming last semester.  I’m glad I tagged along to witness the building.  On our long journey and quite a walk over, we made a left on a street and it was like a slap in the face. BAM! The Jubilee church by Richard Meier was perched on top of a slight incline right at the end of the street.  The frontal view was amazing, yet the context of the building was completely out of context.  Right across the street are 7-9 story apartment buildings and a park across a large parking lot.  The typical views and pictures of the church seem to set the building in a serene park and landscape.  Whether that was the previous condition when it was first built, that condition no longer exists.  Although a-contextual, the church was still beautiful architecturally; especially the white stone that stays bright white due to some kind of paint or sealant that is self-cleaning.  My knowledge on the building is not great, but even without extensive knowledge the building was still a great site to see.  It is hard to believe that 1st year 1st semester graphics I was trying just to sketch the building and now I got to see it first hand.

Me in front of the Jubilee Church by Richard Meier

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Moving to Santa Maria della Pieta

Today was the day we have to say goodbye to the Derby and I was certainly excited to get out.  Waking up in a puddle of my own sweat was unpleasant and disgusting.  So living somewhere were we could actually design and live in I think is going to be fun.

But first we had to load up all of our things into a truck and take a train to our new home. On the train ride over I snapped a quick picture of Cara that def makes the Person Pic of the Day.

Person Pic of the Day - Cara on the train ride over to SMdP

After getting a good idea of how to get here, we made it and the first walk through made this place look pretty good, just not very well maintained.

Shot of Walking to the ex Lavanderia

When we first got here, the place did not look too pleasant although the pictures make this place look like an oasis away from home.  Although there are many Palm trees and very open spaces, the living quarters are well really crappy.  Outdoor showers with no concealment, outdoor terrace buried under mountains of dirt and pine needles, a space completely taken over by a theater that does not use the space the entire day and does not sleep here, and a very very bad internet connection.  It was not a pleasant place to be what so ever.  The picture outside the front windows says otherwise…

View outside our living space that looks serene...

We eventually broke off into separate groups to help fix things.  I was in the group to clean up the terrace that was filled with pine needles, pinecones, and just dirt.  The potential of the area was good; there was a bar and enough area behind it to cook dinners, an old BBQ that we carried upstairs, some sheets of metal, and some stands.  Soon we had a dinner table made to fit us all with benches made of large 2×12 pieces of lumber and small empty keg cans.  After that we made some food on the BBQ and had a great time with plenty of wine and beer to get our minds off the poor conditions we are dealing with.  Hopefully this weekend off will bring some well-needed relaxation.

ex Lavanderia - Our home for the Week

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Baths of Caracala + Stalker take 2

First thing in the morning we headed out to the baths of Caracala in order to take our first stab at watercolor painting.  We were also reintroduced to Peter Lang who we had meet at our final review back in Newark.

We headed off to the Circo Massimo that was once a large horseracing spectacle in Roma.  Right next door is the Baths of Caracala were we would be doing watercolors for the first time.  To be honest I did not know what to expect since I had never done a watercolor before.  But first we got to see the baths themselves.  They were quite amazing.  The scale of the building compared to the human scale was enormous and just imagining the completed walls and ceilings with patterns, frescos, and beautiful materials would be quite a magnificent sight.  If only there was a time machine that could get us to take a look back in time to witness the views of the grand spaces the Romans imagined.

My first Watercolor painting...

After the Baths of Caracala, we walked around the area and eventually came up to a park that was perched on top of a hill and had a great view of Roma.  I just couldn’t resist so I took a panoramic shot.

Panorama After the Baths of Caracala in the nearby neighborhood

After our try at water coloring, (scanning coming soon), we went on another adventure with our friends from Stalker with Lorenzo and Julia.  Our trip now consisted of walking along the Tiber River at a level close to the water.  During this trip we saw how high the water can get in the Tiber and the need for the wall was eminent, yet the architecture and play with space was a bigger opportunity missed throughout this wall.

Nice bridge on our walk over

Along the way, we saw a series of pull-up bars that RJ, Edwin, and Caio climbed up on and created a Person Pic of the Day.

Person Pic of the Day - RJ Edwin and Caio

After this walk, we headed to an old slaughter house which was now divided into multiple parts, one being a part of a architecture school and exhibit, another a place for new people trying to immigrate to Roma and find a way into the system.  The reorganization of the area by Stalker for the refugees is a great attempt to better the situation of people trying to make their way into Roma.  By renovation the existing building, and also giving jobs that helped Stalker in public exhibits to the people who lived there was a great way to build up the community and eventually the diversity of Roma.  I do like where Stalker is going with this social discovery and social benefits for everyone living there.  I guess the experience of moving to Santa Maria della Pieta will be another chance to see how Stalker really works.

Roma + Stalker

After meeting Stalker last night at a dinner and exhibit in the Villa Massimo/German Academai, it was time to take a trip through Roma ala Stalker style.  But first, we (the students) were given some free time to roam around Rome.  Things that I did not see the day before were the Spanish Steps and we did not get into the Santa Maria del Pache cloister which Jim was raving about, and correctly so.

Spanish Stairs

By taking the Metropolitana line A to the Piazza de Spagna stop, I arrived at the Spanish Steps and proceeded to take the trip to the top.  To my amazement, there was a great view of Roma and also perched at the top was another Obelisk and also another church the Trinita del Monti.  Both sights were great to see, although the gypsies were storming around trying to sell cheap little toys, umbrellas, and being quite annoying.  I saw many tourists get sucked in by the schemes of the gypsies but I tried to stay away from the hordes of tourist and gypsies.

Trinita Del Monti - Church at the top of Spanish Steps

My next step was to derive my way through Rome until I got to a familiar spot.  I ventured through tight little ally ways away from the storefront and tourist ridden shops.  Although I am a tourist, I certainly do not want to be engulfed by the mentality of see something, go shopping, see something, sit down for hours, and repeat.  I want to see everything Roma has to offer and this involves many hours of walking and really keeping the pace up.  Nevertheless, I made my way to the Piazza Navona (with the help of a sign or 2) and then made my way to the Santa Maria Del Pache cloister.  The cloister was a perfect square that contained a great procession of columns and an up-close vision of a double barrel vault.  It was very well preserved and the small frescos were also beautiful.  Very quite and peaceful, with a nice but pricey little café on the upper portion, the sketching environment was great.  I proceeded to sketch a plan and section and it came out pretty good.  No sketches have been uploaded, but I will once a scanner becomes readily available.

Santa Maria del Pache Cloister

Santa Maria del Pache Vaulting

After spending some more time in Rome and eventually getting to art store to buy watercolor supplies, which was a pain in the ass I might add, it was time to head back to the Derby and get ready for our first walk with Stalker.  Jim explained that we would be walking along the old aqueducts, but we were in for a different culture shock than we thought.

After meeting at a location far from downtown Roma, we started a journey with our new found friends of Stalker.  We traveled along the edge of the aqueducts and we saw areas that back when many aspects were built for a modern Roma, many cheap labor works lived under the arches of the aqueducts by building concrete walls on one end and keeping the other end open but draped with cloth to make small tented areas.  Many people lived this way because the payment they received monthly could not even sustain a monthly rent bill.  So in terms of living, the homeless were employed and supplied services for the greater city, yet they couldn’t even afford to be a part of a community that they are creating.  Fair? Just? I think not… Now the area that was once a refuge for these struggling blue-collar workers is now a growing area with beautiful homes and also homes for other immigrants.

Aqueducts of Roma

In the midst of this, a Person Pic of the Day popped into view of my camera.  It was of Tim and our newfound friends from Stalker, Lorenzo and Julia.

Tim, Lorenzo, and Julia

Throughout the rest of the day we walked around many different areas of this portion of Roma that was inhabited by many people of many different races.  People from Bangladesh, China, and other European countries were living in the area while trying to make a living in Roma.  We even crossed over from a developed park into an open field that was flattened down, as if a civilization had picked up and moved, which is exactly what had happened.  Gypsy camps along with other refugees from other countries constantly change locations in order to avoid being thrown around by authorities.  Many of these people are doing jobs around Roma for little to nothing, similar to the situation with the aqueducts approx. 35 years ago.  Seeing a trend? Very disappointing in my eyes.

That night we eventually ended up in a district that was developed and a school on the corner was virtually unused.  This was true because a law in Rome says a certain percentage of students need to be truly Italian.  What that means is that the child needs to be born in Italy and have parents that are both Italian.  Most of the area’s populations are immigrants so many of the children that were born in Italy are not Italian citizens.  So because the percentage is not to par, the school year cannot progress.  In an area so diverse with 3 completely different religions residing on one street without conflict, the community will only suffer with the lack of proper education.  I can only hope that legislation with change, and that Stalker will help change these ridiculous notions that are decades old and will no longer work in a world so globally diverse.

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Caprarola – Italian Countryside Trip

The trip started with a mix up in buses and the bus eventually showed up an hour late, but we had a full size bus with a very good air conditioning system.  That was definitely a great relief from the hot as hell room at the Derby.  After a good 1.5 hours of sleep, we arrived at the Villa Farnese.

The large circular staircase with frescos EVERYWHERE

Villa Farnese - The front entrance & the circular staircase

Also just as we entered the building and waited for the next tour, we got a winner for the Person Pic of the Day.  This time it goes to Flores.

Person Pic of the Day - Flores

The building is a trapezoidal shape with enormous concrete walls that served as a fortress as well as a palace for the Farnese Family.  It was truly a sight to see.  Every room around the entire main building had frescos that related to the program the room was given, but enhanced by appropriating frescos of biblical and mythological importance.  As Jim guided us around the rooms, we eventually got to the upper floor and we were able to see a great view of the town below.  Back in the rein of the Farnese family, the Family owned the entire town and mountainside for many generations in addition to influencing many important territorial and political power ie The Pope.  Jim said that many Farnese family descendents were Popes themselves.  Nevertheless the Farnese still had some tricks up their sleeves in terms of they “home away from home.”

Panoramic view from the 2nd floor of Villa Farnese

The next portion of the Villa Farnese was a large fountain garden and a smaller home up a hill an in the trees of the Farnese property.  The fountains were gorgeous and really gave a sense of tranquility and escape from the trials and tribulations of the world.  With the Farnese always being in demand based on territorial and political disputes, they needed a place to just sit back and relax.

Villa Farnese - The getaway home and its fountains

Once we got to the top of the hill and got onto the opposite side, it was time to take a group picture.  To my fellow Siena Studio mates; if you want a higher resolution picture let me know.

Group Picture at the Getaway Home at Villa Farnese

Caio and Edwins Epic Jump

Next we were off to the Villa Lante.  Unfortunately my battery was running low and I was unable to snap some pictures of the Villa.  Villa Lante was a-typical because the cross axis of the villa does not run through a building.  In fact, there are two buildings, mirror images of each other, along both sides of the axis.  What ran through the middle was the most important; it was a series of water fountains the coolest being a dining table that had a stream going through it where platters of food would travel down.  I’m starting to believe the whole notion that in Architecture many things have been done; you just need to look hard enough.  Also, similarly to Villa Farnese, the Villa Lante was perched up on the top of a hill, yet the series of fountains can be seen from the street walking all the way up.  Both buildings were great sites to see and the exit to the countryside was great.  Ill end with the source of all the water to the Villa Lante, a start that almost looks as though the water is percolating through the walls naturally, almost signifying that the site was begging to have the treatment it got.

Villa Lante Waterfall

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Roma ala Jim Dart with a pinch of Baroque

After experiencing Rome for 2 days, it was time to see Rome ala Jim Dart style.  We started off from the Derby onto the Garbatella station, which is the Metropolitana B line.  We got off at Termini, the main station in the heart of Rome, and headed on the Metropolitana A line.  The air conditioning on that train was beautiful to feel because it has been over 90 degrees with high humidity everyday so far.  In addition to that, no letting up of the relentless heat was in sight.  Anyway, we got off at Piazza del Popolo.  Our first venture was the Santa Maria del Popolo and it was one of the first on our Journey.  Bernini designed the 2nd dome on the left side aisle and it was a nice sight to see.  In addition, the church itself was just one of the magnificent churches we would see in Rome.  The church was very Baroque and the aura of lighting striking the center of the pedestal was amazing.  Of course the Baroque had to create great spectacles when designing these churches, I mean they had to keep up and hopefully succeed the Romans during their rein of glory.

Santa Maria Del Popolo - The great bands of lighting hitting the interior of the church

Sketch of Santa Maria de Popolo

Next we traveled to many locations, some too quick to snag a good photo and only enough time to draw a quick parti, or elevation, or section.  Either way I managed to get a church, which the name escapes me right now but it is major baroqo-qo-qo-qo. The phrase basically means Baroque gone nuts with way to much money.

Baroqo-qo-qo - Baroque to the extreme with too much money

After visiting this church we made our way to the famous Piazza Navona and the Sant’Agnese Church.  Of course, controversy followed even into the times of the Baroque when it came down to 2 architects; Bernini and Borromini.  With the Sant’Agnese and the sculpture/obelisk that marks its importance, Borromini’s sculpture and Bernini’s design for Sant’Agnese clearly express the controversy behind the two architects and more importantly the design for Piazza Navona.  Borromini had the forefront design when dealing with the entire Piazza, but Bernini got the church.  Needless to say the contradictions really do make the Piazza Navona great.  Maybe the pursuit of not just being an iconic architect, but the better architect of the two top architects of their time really pushed both of them to be equally great.

Sant'Agnese in Piazza Navona - The church and the statue with the obelisk in front of the church

Next we traveled to the jaw-dropping Pantheon.  Unfortunately, the exterior had scaffolding on half of it; that really was disappointing because my nifty new camera would have caught a nice shot of the front.  Oh well, the real architectural prominence happens on the interior with the center oculus shining light and glimmering the walls and amazing long spanning dome.  I planned on photo stitching a 360 dome like image encompassing the whole dome all the way until the walls hit the floor.  The image and more importantly the stitching is proving to be challenging.  Hopefully I will have time later to finish it.  In the mean time, a placeholder until that nice image comes.

A vertical panoramic view of the Pantheon

Next came the Campidoglio by Michelangelo and the “Wedding Cake” in front of the building.  The disappointing building had angle statues on the roof that needed cross bracing between the wings to support the sculpture.  In my eyes, that is a complete failure and incompetence of the architect and/or sculpture to not use a stronger metal that could handle the stresses.  More interesting is the Campidoglio and the large procession that leads to the trapezoidal center.  In this process, the Person Pic of the Day goes to Neil.


Campadoglio designed by Michealangelo

Person Pic of the Day - Niel

Finally, we ended in a church that was a designed by Bernini that so happened to be focused on the polish community in Rome.  We finally sat down inside and did a few sketches of the inside mainly plan and section with a few details around the page.  Additionally, I grasped a shot of Jim Dart looking straight up and contemplating how Bernini was just awesome.

Jim in Bernini church

That completes the day with our travels to Roma.  Quite amazing.  Tomorrow we have a trip to the country side to Villa Farnese and Villa Lante.  Going to be relaxing with not as much walking and great site seeing.

Ciao I Arrivaderci