Block Intervention

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Block Intervention
Dioguardi, Bernard
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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Subjects / Keywords:
Architectural design ( jstor )
Cities ( jstor )
City blocks ( jstor )
City squares ( jstor )
Concretes ( jstor )
Housing ( jstor )
Public space ( jstor )
Restaurants ( jstor )
Towers ( jstor )
Walking ( jstor )
Undergraduate Honors Thesis


The purpose of this paper is to explain in detail my D7 project of the Block Intervention in the city of Rome. The project consists of replacing all the buildings within a series of blocks to convert them into a multidisciplinary block that addresses both ( en )

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Honors Thesis: Block Intervention Bernard Dioguardi Senior Architecture Student Summer 2015


Dioguardi 2 Abstract The purpose of this paper is to explain in detail my D7 project of the Block Intervention in the city of Rome. The project consists of replacing all the building s within a series of blocks to convert them into a multidisciplinary block that addresses both the tourists and the residents of Rome. The aim of the block project is to create a series of programs and spac es which not only weave within the fabric of the city, but that also add to its composition. In addition, the block should be composed of diverse programs that address different audiences of different ages and tastes, including an outside public space. Dif ferent characteristics will be analyzed, which will influence the design of the block as a whole and as it s constituent parts.


Dioguardi 3 Block Intervention City Analysis What does the intervention of the block do for the city of Rome? Rome is a city reigned by monuments and massive construction (Grundmann , 287 ) as it is seen in all the Palazzos throughout the city [See Fig. 1] . Walking the streets of Rome, in between the monumental buildings and the waves of people and tourists, gives the city a sense of grandness but it may also be overwhelming at points where the streets become narrow. Hence, Piazzas are created every now and then to give the city some breathing areas. These Piazzas, which are usually surrounded by churches, monuments, and commercial buildings, have become important spaces for people to gather, sit down, and enjoy the uniqueness of Rome. Many of these Piazzas hold markets; others have fountains, and some just have trees and benches where tourists rest while walking the city. Throughout history, Rome has been built layer upon layer of constructions, which have created the diversity and mix ture of programs in th e city. When walking the city, one may find churches, restaurants, markets, movie theaters, apartments, offices, parks and other programs all within a block. Thus, when redesigning a block in Rome it is important to understand how t he city is assembled and to introduce into the proposed space the necessary programs to maintain the flow of the city. Likewise , there are other characteristics that should be considered when re designing a block in an ancient city such as Rome. For example, it is crucial to understand the scale of the city [See Fig 3] : as mentioned before, Rome is dominated by monumental architectu re, hence, to design a one stor y building next to a series of colossal constructions would throw the scale off and the new building would seem out of place.


Dioguardi 4 C ampidoglio: The clear importance of this building on the site gives it its greatness, for which it is considered a monument. Fig. 1: Campidoglio of Rome Basilica di San Pietro: This grand church s erves as a land marker in the city due to its height in comparison to the other buildings surrounding it. Fig. 2: Saint Peter's Basilica Piazza Campidoglio: This Piazza, conceived by Michelangelo, plays with the surrounding buildings to relate to the occupants through scale. Fig. 3: Campidoglio's Square Another characteristic that is crucial when designing a public space is that of the intensity level . The intensity level of a public space is determined by the amount of noise that fill s a space due to the activities performed by the occupants, which depends on the program assigned to each space (Perez) . Certain spaces have a fixed intensity level, which is specified by the program of the design. In these spaces, such as churches, libraries, concert halls , etc., people have a predetermined idea of how they should behave. For example, a library has a low intensity level because of people reading quietly; similarly, a church has a


Dioguardi 5 medium intensity level due to people praying and chanting; on the contrary, a concert hall would have a high intensity level due to the amount of noise produced. Furthermore, w hen dealing with exterior spaces such as Piazzas, parks, gardens , etc., the ir intensity level may be influenced by the programs of the buildings that surround such spaces. For instance, Linco ln Center in New York has a high intensity level , while a Chinese garden has a low intensity level . A public space such as Lincoln Center can become very noisy and busy due to the programs that surround the spa ce (restaurants, bars, movie theaters, etc.) and the amount of people that fill the space. On the other hand, a Chinese garden is made for meditation and people usually know that they should remain silent and behave in a certain manner , hence it is very quite and tranquil. In addition, the intensity level of a space may differ depending on the time of the day or the season. As an example, Turlington Plaza in UF could be categorized as a high intensity level during football season, but as a low intensity l evel during the summer. Hence, the intensity level of a space depends mainly on its program and how it varies through out the year. Nearby the proposed lot where the block intervention exists, there are several Piazzas that help relieve the overflow of pede strians [See Fig. 4] . Two of these Piazzas are Piazza Farnese and Piazza dei Fiori, which are good examples of how an open public space in Rome works, and what it does for the city [See Fig. 5 and 6 ] . Although b oth Piazzas are next to each other and they are about the same size, they are used differently: Piazza Farnese holds a big market a few days of the week and is surrounded by restaurants, which categorize this Piazza as a medium to high intensity level; o n the other hand, Piazza dei Fiori is a more tranquil space with two fountains where people sit and relax , hence it has a medium to low intensity level . However, without the market, both Piazzas would be of a medium intensity level.


Dioguardi 6 Fig. 4: Analysis of intensity level and population capacity of different Piazzas in Rome As opposed to that, Piazza di Spagna, which is several blocks away from the other two Piazzas has a much higher intensity level. This Piazza is surrounded by shops and restaurants, and the amount of tourists that transition through this Piazza, the musicians , and announcers make thi s a high intensity level public space . Piazza Navona on the other hand, although it i s as big as Piazza di Spagna, has a lower intensity level because of its programmatic qualities: it is surrounded by churches, and there are no restaurants or markets along the Piazza, which make it a less commercial zone.


Dioguardi 7 Fig. 5: Map of the site of intervention and the Piazzas adjacent


Dioguardi 8 Fig. 6 : Site analysis and comparison to Piazzas nearby . The scale of the streets and the blocks in the area influence the design of the new intervention. Also, the amount of vegetation in the area, and the river next to the site affect the layout and program of the new building s.


Dioguardi 9 The graph on the left shows an analysis of the scale of the public space of the intervention compared with the scale of the other Piazzas mentioned before. As it is seen in the graph, the scale of the intervention's public area is closer to Piaz za Farnese and Piazza dei Fiori . Also, due to the fact that housing and work programs will surround this public space , it gives the Piazza a predetermined sense of a low intensity level. Yet, the intervention is also composed of commercial areas, which may ra ise t he intensity level of the space to a medium intensity level during peak hours. Fig. 7: Exterior render of commercial area


Dioguardi 10 Program Layout The intervention is a multidisciplinary coexistence of programs that creates a series of woven interventions, which come together as a whole to create a city block [See Fig . 8 ] . It encompasses five main categories of programs: housing, work, commercial, attractors, and public open space [See Fig. 9 ] . These programs were ch osen because they will continue the busy flow of the city of Rome throughout the day and the night . The housing zone will serve the program of work and vice versa , which consist of three towers. T he commercial area, which is composed of all the horizontal part of the intervention target s tourists and pedestrians. Meanwhile, the main building of the design holds the attractor spaces that will target residents of the city. In between all these programs lives a pu blic open space where residents and tourists comingle [See Fig. 10 ] . Fig. 8 : Programs within the intervention Fig . 9 : Square footage of each program with their respective spaces


Dioguardi 11 Fig. 10 : Render of public space, showing housing towers and work zone Fig. 11: Exploded Axonometric of intervention


Dioguardi 12 Exploration of Materiality The surrounding buildings, the history of Rome, and the vegetation of the city at the moment we traveled determined some of the material palette used for the block intervention . The main materials used were: corten steel, translucent concrete, glass, and travertine pavers [See Fig. 12 ] . Fig. 12 : Material palette of the intervention Since it was autumn at the time we visited Rome, most of the trees were changing color from green, to red, orange, and yellow. Hence, the use of corten steel, which is orange reddish, plays with the gamma of the changing trees. This material was chosen for the towers, to mimic the verticality of the trees and


Dioguardi 13 respond to the way nature surrounds the public spaces. The translucent concrete was chosen to play as juxtaposition with the monumentality of the buildings surrounding the site. Usually buildings in Rome are heavy, made of stone or concrete, thus the translucent concrete during th e night will change the notion of monumentality. A big percentage of the intervention is enclosed by glass, a modern material compared to the materials used in most construction in Rome. However, the use of glass helps the intervention distinguish itself form the palazzos surrounding it. The glazing syst em is composed of a series of structures holding the glass in place, which also create a series of shading systems [Fig. 13] Fig. 13: Glazing system of the Fac ade


Dioguardi 14 Finally, t ravertine, which is a material found throughout Rome, in churches, palazzos and public areas, was chosen for the ground of the public space in between the buildings as travertine pavers . Lapis Tiburtinus , as the Romans used to call it, was one of the main materials used in the Colosseum (Pepe) , and many other important tourist attract ions such as the Pantheon and Saint Peter's Basilica . The use of a material widely used in Rome throughout time will create a direct connection between the new intervention and the old city of Rome , hence residents and tourists who occupy the public space will still feel as if they were in another Piazza in Rome . Although the intervention may seem as a modern architectural design within the city of Rome, its material palette achieve s a good conversation between its futuristic approach and the old p alazzos and monuments of the city [See Fig. 14 ]. Fig. 14 : Panorama of intervention from across the river


Dioguardi 15 Sectional Qualities The change in scale within the project from the horizontal to the vertical parts of the intervention serves to create different paths of view from the interior spaces and from the street. Also, the diversity of building heights create openings throughout the design to let sunlight move through all the spaces, hence the whole block will be evenly lit during the year. The sectional qualities of the intervention are crucial for both the exterior aesthetics of the design, and the interior spaces [See Fig. 15 ]. The program o f housing was located in the towers to give the residents views of the city and the river. Meanwhile, the commercial and work areas of the intervention compose the horizontal part of the design, to have a more fluid conversation with the street. Fig. 15 : Section and elevations showing the change in scale within the intervention


Dioguardi 16 Conclusion This project emphasizes the importance of analyzing a city before intervening with one's own development, especially when planning a design of such a scale. As it was mentioned, there are certain characteristics, which play important roles in the design of a new intervention in a city: scal e, program, intensity level, materiality , and sectional qualities . Each of these characteristics can make a project succeed o r fail when the project is put in context with the rest of the city. When a new construction can be seen in comparison with other existing buildings within a city, it will be successful [See Fi g. 16 ]. This project accomplished the scale of the city by havi ng monumental characteristics, which relate to the monuments of the city. It also achieved the program and intensity level by having a diverse but balanced amount of programs, which target the right amount of people. Finally, materiality and sectional qual ities proved to be proper as seen in renders and drawings. Fig. 16 : Comparison of the monuments of Rome with the design proposal


Dioguardi 17 Bibliography Grundmann, Stefan. " The Architecture of Rome.! Second Revisited Edition. 2007 Edition Axel Menges, Stuttgart/London . Page 287. Perez, Alfonso. "Design Studio Class." Institute of the University of Florida. Vicenza, Italy. Oct. 2014. Lecture. Pepe, Andrea. "Materials.! The Colosseum. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. < http://www.the materials_en.htm >